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Ashley’s Advice :: Be Kind
April 7, 2013
This week’s advice column is specifically directed at photographers and other business owners.
I typically don’t work on Sundays, but my heart is a little heavy this morning and I feel the overwhelming need to get this off my soul and off my mind.
Last year, there were a couple photographers that I admire – Spanki Mills and Julie Paisley – who took a stand – they called it The “Be Nice” Campaign (it was with an official Facebook page, and everything!). They got sick of all the negativity, bashing and downright ugliness that has befallen our photography community. They got tired of seeing, hearing about and reading all the mean, bullyish things that everyone had to say about each other. And I’ll be honest, I am sick of it too. The “Be Nice” Campaign was a great effort to build a community of photographers who are openly supportive and KIND. One of my girlfriends, Jen McKen wrote this awesome blog a while ago about not wanting to work with bullies, and I remember reading that and thinking “YOU GO GIRL!”. Jasmine Star has done a wonderful job of reinforcing my very strong belief that in order to be a successful person, it means building amazing working relationships with vendors and fellow ‘togs, because we are all in this business together. It’s really awesome to have a local network of colleagues that I can talk shop with, refer clients to, receive referrals from – etc. etc. It’s awesome to have that level of kindness and friendship despite a competitive market because let’s face it, there are SO MANY clients in our respective areas that even if we wanted to have a session with them all, it would be impossible.
And that’s what this week’s blog is about. Being KIND.
We’ve all had someone say something badly about us. And it always seems to get back to us, that so-and-so just has nothing kind to say about you. And it sucks, right? Here’s the thing. The next time that someone tells you about the smack someone else is talking about you – look at their body language, look at their facial expressions. Nine out of ten times, the reason they are telling you is because this information has made them uncomfortable and it shows in their body language and facial expression. They almost feel relieved to tell you, because they are so uncomfortable with that toxicity resting on their conscience. I would be willing to guess that when they were listening to whoever it was speaking badly about you – it made them immediately feel uncomfortable.
Now let’s think about this from a business viewpoint :: The reason clients come to you are for a few very important reasons.
Now tell me … when you’re making someone clearly uncomfortable, how is that providing an amazing experience? How is it even pertaining to your business or the session you’re in the middle of shooting? And how is it anyone’s business about how you personally feel about someone or something? It’s not. And you’re just getting yourself a bad reputation of being a gossip-talker, smack-making and immature business owner. And I’d be willing to bet that you’ve lost the client you’ve made so uncomfortable. In fact, I know for sure that’s what happens – because guess what? They’re here at my studio, having a session with me. BOOM.
Kindess – 1
Ugliness – 0
I understand the pressures of gossiping – I am a chick, after all! We’ve all done it, sitting around gossiping about things. But when it turns mean-spirited, it burns a hole in your soul. And it makes you ugly on the inside. And it gives you warts (well, maybe not that last part … ha ha!).
When clients come to me and try to start gossiping about someone else or telling me the awful thing someone has said about me, especially someone that I’ve never even had the chance to meet – it really makes me sad and uncomfortable. Sad because my client and/or friend has been made uncomfortable, sad because I honestly just don’t like having bad things said about me, and sad because it’s untrue. It makes me feel uncomfortable because what am I supposed to do?
I don’t allow gossiping at my sessions. I just don’t. When people tell me that so-and-so has said something about me, I let it roll off my back. I know it’s coming from a place of pettiness and jealousy, and I can see that my client and friend is uncomfortable, and all I can do is genuinely express that “I’m so sorry that so-and-so has made you feel so uncomfortable by putting you in this awkward position” and I move on. I don’t let the dark cloud of unkindness put a damper on my sunniness. It’s hard to do sometimes, I’ll be the first to admit. But I try very hard not to let it bother me. Why? Because I’m too busy enjoying my work and my clients to be negative. I’m so blessed to be a paid artist, and to have the world’s best clients-turned-friends. You won’t hear me say an unkind thing about someone, because it’s a lesson that I’ve learned :: it would only reflect poorly on me as a person and as a business.
I want my clients to know that my sessions are all about THEM. I want them to have the best experience possible. I want them to walk away and go “man, that was SO fun! I can’t wait to hang out with Ash again!” … Why? Because that’s the kind of stuff that brings in referrals. Because I pride myself on giving myself an amazing experience, and giving them my full attention. And because I pride myself on being a good person.
So here is my advice for all of you reading this advice column.
Until next week, lovelies!