It Is A Favor – Not An Obligation

I heard a very disturbing conversation yesterday and of course I have to share.

A woman was telling her friend about the renovation to her home and was complaining about how long it took and the lack of response from the person performing the service.

I would have been okay with the constant, nagging, whinny complaining had it been due to poor execution which did not meet certain, specified expectations which were set out when she contracted the service provider.

But this was not the case.  The person who did the work was a friend who did it as a favor.

Let me pause for a moment to give us all a vocabulary lesson:


fa·vor noun – something done or granted out of goodwill, rather than from justice or for remuneration; a kind act:

ob·li·ga·tion noun – something by which a person is bound or obliged to do


Let’s recap: a favor is something done out of goodwill, out of the goodness of one’s heart; an obligation is something that is responsibility, duty or contractual requirement.  In other words you are paying for one.

This woman was complaining that the friend didn’t respond when she would call to ask questions or check on when it was going to be done.  She was upset that it took so long, that her friend said she wouldn’t mind doing it but just couldn’t believe how badly she was treated and went on and on and on.

My tongue is a little sore today from biting it so hard and not interjecting.  I so badly wanted to say, “I’m sorry you didn’t respect her enough to pay for her services but yet you expected to be first on the list?”  Really? Seriously??

Sometimes for my friends I will offer to help them out, I don’t have a problem doing this, I offer it willingly.  Yet there are times that they tend to forget that I actually run a business, I get paid for what I do and I have clients that must come first.

I had one friend that I said I would help and after I sent the revised resume I received not a thank you, but rather snide comments.  Things to the effect of it could have been done in a day and that they could have bullshitted it themselves.  That will be the last favor I offer that “friend”.

As a business owner and service provider please let me offer a few things to keep in mind before you ask a friend to assist you out of the goodness of their own heart:

  • They are a professional, they get paid for their services – respect that.
  • Thank them.  Even if you do not like the end result respect that they took time out of their day and away from paying clients to help you – again, out of the goodness of their heart.
  • Remember no matter how good of friends you are it does not put you on the top of the list.  Spouses and significant others are exempt from this rule – but that is only because it will affect the personal relationship in a whole host of ways that we just wont get into here.
  • Don’t degrade their work.  I encourage my clients to challenge me and openly tell me what they do not like during the preparation stages.  I certainly do not need snide comments from someone that isn’t viewing or treating me as a professional.
  • Do not try to leverage your personal friendship for your personal gain.  It is disrespectful. Not only might you end up with a lower quality project – you might end up with one less friend.
  • Respect the fact that their schedule is client driven – paying client driven.  Sometimes that means you get bumped from the top of the list.  Deal with it.
  • Don’t complain if you are asked to help in some way.  If you are redesigning your kitchen then for goodness sakes give them ideas, see if you can pick up any material, ask them what you can do to help them.

I once heard of a guy that went up to his doctor neighbor as he was walking up his driveway after coming home from work and asked him to review his x-rays.  Seriously??

Sometimes people will not come right out and ask, they do it in a more round about way so the professional friend almost feels compelled to help.  Don’t use your friendship to manipulate your friend.  Again, disrespectful.

If you are asking because you need something and do not have the availability to pay the full price of services, there is a way that you can help your friend in return.  Give recommendations.  Bringing them a few more clients is a wonderful way to repay their services and kindness.

In listening to the woman complain about her designer friend it did not make me NOT want to use the designer.  Actually, I felt sorry for the designer.  What a nice person giving their time and expertise to such a lousy friend.  I almost wanted to ask for their name just to I could help even out karma and see if there was any one I could refer her to as a potential client that would actually pay for and respect her services.

I didn’t only because I was afraid the bitchy side of me would come out.

Just remember, your friends should be your friends because of the value that they bring to your life and this should have nothing to do with getting free professional services.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.

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