Top 5 Unprofessional Habits When Dealing with a Freelancer or Small Business


Being polite might seem like an inconvenience, but it goes a long way towards being seen as professional.

As an author, freelancer, or small business, you are your brand. How you treat others reflects on you, your service, or your product.

When you treat others rudely, you show a lack of respect and it can be quite hurtful. Some also hold grudges.

This image of a person with a trashcan for a head made me laugh. Artist Jono Doiron

5. Talking Trash

This should be the most obvious. If you didn’t like the service or product you should let the person know first.

I’m obviously not against airing my disappointment with a brand online or in person, but there’s a difference between not being happy and being treated badly.

Not being happy with something you paid for is unfortunate but something that needs to be negotiated with the provider first.

4. Negative Negotiation

I have been told, “Your stuff is good for someone who doesn’t do it professionally” as a lead up to asking me to lower my prices. I let the client know that after twenty years of experience in being paid to do layout, I’d consider myself a professional. (Yes, my first paid projects were when I was 15-16.)

It’s a common technique to compare products or say things like, “My cousin could do this for free” or “I can do it myself” in order to try and get a discount.

Stop doing it. If you want a professional then they will cost.

That being said there are plenty of other ways to negotiate. For example, if I do more than one job for a product I’ll give a discount. (Eg. Ebook =150; Print = 150; but Print + Ebook is 250)

3. Being Antagonistic

Things happen during a project. Things could not be clear and something isn’t what you wanted. Talk to the person and work it through. Don’t be snarky, most likely they didn’t do it on purpose. A type or misalignment or wrong flavour, etc… Just talk to them and they’ll fix it.

2. Not saying Thank You

There’s no need to send a gift basket or anything grand. Just a small email saying thank you for your work. That’s classy and makes everyone happy.

1. Ghosting

In the past I’ve worked on a project for a client, then they asked me to clear time or give a quote for further related projects. I waited and never heard back from them. Then I saw on social media that they’d gone with someone else.

I don’t care that they went with someone else, but it would have been nice for them to let me know. I could have supplied the source files for the first project and I would have wished them luck. Since they switched after the first in a series of projects, without telling me, it shows a great lack of professional respect.

If you ask for a quote and decide to go in another direction, let the person know. Or let them know you’re asking others for quotes in the first email.

Any of these things can be rude, thoughtless, or just annoying. They are all unprofessional and in some cases will make a Freelancer or Small Business not work with you in the future.

Is there anything I missed? What do you think?


Top 5 Rudest Questions I’ve Been Asked

Everyone knows that feeling; the awkward rude question feeling. You’re having fun chatting with someone when all of a sudden they ask the question and you’re not sure if you should laugh or run away.

Don't be Mr Rude!
Don’t be Mr Rude!

Everyone has different annoyances but the following 5 are rude to ask anyone.

5. Are you seeing anyone?

Why is this rude?

Our society seems obsessed with coupling and producing 2.5 offspring but that’s not for everyone. Yes everyone enjoys a good love story but if the person is single they’re already seeing lovey-dovey couples everywhere and you rubbing it in their face that they’re single, is just mean.

What to say instead

Ask what they’ve done recently that excites them or what their passionate about.

4. Have you lost/gained weight?

Why is this rude?

Nobody likes to be reminded that they are or were fat. It’s not fun. Not to mention the rats-nest of psychological issues associated with weight and looks. Our society praises muscled, or rake-thin, men and curvy thin, or model thin, women. When nearly every person you respect on television or movies looks like something you’re not it’s easy to start thinking there’s something wrong with you.

What to say instead?

If you have to comment on their appearance try saying something positive about their clothes, makeup, hair, facial hair, or accessories. These are things people can easily control and some people put a lot of care into them.

3. Where are you “really” from?

Why is this rude?

You’re assuming that the person doesn’t look like you so they can’t be from the same place as you. If someone says they’re from Ottawa, leave it at that. Many people who don’t look like you are from here, same as their parents, and grandparents.

Yes I have been asked this despite being white. People seem to think I must be from Iceland or a Scandinavian country. It’s funny to see their faces when I say both sides of my family have been here for upwards of 8 generations and came from France.

What to say instead?

Nothing. If the topic of race/ethnicity/origin comes up than you can politely inquire about their background. You’ll find most people are more than willing to talk about it in context when they aren’t being assaulted with the question.

2. Why are you into all this kid’s stuff?

Why is this rude?

First you’re assuming what I like is only for kids and second you’re assuming that matters. I love animated movies (Inside Out is my favourite movie of 2015), My Little Pony, science-fiction, fantasy, YA literature, etc. By saying they’re “Only for Kids” you’re judging my likes and the things I like at the same time. Not cool!

What to say instead?

What’s [insert thing] about? What do you like about it? Asking questions as if you respect my opinion instead of having already judged my tastes.

1. Is your partner pregnant yet?

Why is this rude?

Again society seems obsessed with the idea of coupling off and making those 2.5 offspring. Not everyone wants children, not everyone is read to have children, and not everyone can have children. Assuming that they MUST be popping out tiny little clones is annoying.

It’s worse for those who can’t have children but want them. Then they are reminded every single time of what they can’t have.

Personally I’m not ready yet and that’s me and wife’s choice. When we finally do have children be prepared to hear about it. A LOT!

What to say instead?

Personally I like to ask newlyweds and people who’ve lived together how tired they are of hearing this question. It’ll usually get a laugh.

Otherwise, just don’t ask. You’ll know when they are ready to tell you.


What rude question do you hate the most?