Asking for a Friend | Chapter Two
Advice from Babe to Babe
The best (and probably only) advice I can give here is to find allies. Who (man or woman) will have the most empathy and has enough clout to effectively stand in your corner? Find those people and find ways to align yourself with them, and eventually the unsupportive, negative and competitive people (man or woman) will hang themselves without you having to do anything to out them.
—HILLARY KIRTLAND, CONTRIBUTOR
Build a work relationship with the women in your workplace, even if their roles are separate than yours. Ask what they’re working on and listen to what they have trouble with or are succeeding in. A lot of the times being the minority in a group leads to you feeling like you’re alone. That only does a disservice to the group as a whole. I practiced “shine theory” and “amplification” with a female coworker who was more senior than I was. She was having a hard time getting our boss to see the strategic value of a project. When we discussed it, I pitched an idea coming from my discipline’s perspective. We agreed she would suggest it at a weekly staff meeting, expecting that the idea would be rejected by our boss—but that would be my cue to chime in and give my perspective on the strategic value and help our boss warm up to the idea. If we’d never communicated because our jobs were so different, we wouldn’t be getting anything done for the bigger picture. It meant we worked as a team, but also had our ideas heard in a male-dominated space. (Obama staffers also used this tactic in West Wing meetings.)
—MARISOL SAMAYOA, BABE #65
The same advice I'd give in everyday life: Just start in your circle. Be an example, do what you can with what influence you do have, offer your help. I've noticed that we don't really have a policy about “xyz.” This is a big interest of mine and I would love to do some research on how we can be better at it.
I had a team of new interns each semester, and my main focus was always on our team's culture being healthy (having open communication, hosting continuous trainings, holding weekly team meetings focused on needs/growth/connecting.) After HR noticed the great feedback I was getting from my team witnessed our dynamic, other leaders in the organization would reach out. Eventually I was asked to lead company-wide trainings on things like inclusiveness, language choices, team-leadership, etc.
Taking ownership of what you can do in the day-to-day, what reach you already have, and making that a major focus of yours is pivotal. it will feel like an uphill battle at first and people may push back, but the results will eventually speak for themself.
—MOLLY SLICKER, CONTRIBUTOR
Inviting people to join you for things you’d normally do in your own—like eating lunch at your desk or running an errand—is an opportunity to make your workplace more friendly. I like to ask someone to join me to get coffee or run a work errand with me. It’s a great excuse to get to know the people you work with. Using Slack to share interesting articles or invitations to outside work events makes it feel like you’re part of a community, rather than just a workplace. It definitely takes one person to open that door. You can start a trend that way—it’s as simple as going for a walk with someone.
—MARISOL SAMAYOA, BABE #65
Sometimes the best way is to just share your prices as they are and not address a discount at all. There's no struggling over words, and it's a firm way to basically say there isn't a discount.
If it does need to be said, you have some options: (1) No discount. You could say that you work at “X” rate, which is what you need to pay your bills and grow your business. (2) Discount. You could say your friends and family discount is something small, like 5 or 10 percent. (3) Perks instead of a discount. You could offer a perk, like an extra hour of time, or something tangible (e.g. if you're a photographer, you could offer a few more prints or help designing a small album, etc.). This way the friend feels validated, but they aren't taking advantage of you or preventing you from being paid for your work appropriately.
Always get contracts signed no matter who you’re working with—maybe even especially if it's a friend or family member. Make sure it's clear and outlines everything, including all processes and timelines, and make sure they actually read it or go through it with them in detail. This will set expectations early on and help prevent further issues down the line.
—ASHLIE JOHNSON COGGINS, CONTRIBUTOR
So many businesses run on the “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” mentality that it’s no wonder it now bleeds into our personal relationships. I agree completely with Ashlie’s advice, but would also consider a trade partnership. If the friend of yours works somewhere or has something you’d want to be a part of or own, see if they’ll do a trade deal. That way (depending on a few variables) you get something you need out of it and keep growing that relationship, as long as it doesn’t decrease your value. That is—if you’re also looking to get something. If not, refer to the advice above.
—KATE PIERSON, CONTRIBUTOR
I'm so annoyed that this question has to be asked, that I'm just like: "No. You just say, 'no.'"
—AMANDA HANDLEY, CONTRIBUTOR
Until next week,
THE BWH ADVICE GURUS
Asking for a Friend is Babes Who Hustle's weekly advice column that asks and answers the work-related questions on all of our minds. Looking for advice and guidance? Hit us with all of your questions below and stay tuned for next Wednesday's edition!