Paid Versus Free Opinions

To follow up on my previous post about people asking for my opinions, I have noticed an interesting phenomenon. Although it is far from universal, I have observed that people, such as friends and family, who ask for my opinion with no intention of paying me for my time or expertise, often devalue or discount what I have to say. Some of them even go as far as arguing with me when my opinions, based on scientific research, do not comport with their everyday, commonsense, notions. In contrast, most (but certainly not all) of my clients, who pay me for my opinions about their lawsuits, value what I have to say and usually heed my advice. I have pointed out this observation to David on countless occasions, as it pertains to the advice I have provided him regarding important family issues that are related to psychological issues. Because of my expertise in human behavior, I can usually “see” what is going to happen well before the inevitable occurs. Mom used to say “Other people would have to get up before breakfast to get ahead of you!” because she recognized that I am usually able to observe things about other people that they, themselves, fail to see. There is a common perception that “You get what you pay for,” however, when it comes to my ability to provide my expertise for free, out of generosity, compassion, and love, I believe my advice should be given equal consideration to the same advice paid for at my hourly rate. I don’t mind helping people, for free, but I do mind it when my advice is ignored or mocked. On the numerous occasions when this has happened, I always think about my many great clients, who truly appreciate my opinions, even when they differ from their own.

Melissa is in the position of giving, or rather, selling, advice on a daily basis.  In a way, that is the business we are in.  Of course, much of Melissa’s advice builds not only on her education, training, knowledge and experiences, but on data collected and analyzed for our client’s cases.  Clients pay “good money” to hear what she has to say and follow her advice.  There have been clients over the decades who were going through the motions at the behest of their clients, usually insurance companies.  And, there are the types who think they are the smartest people in the room and that others have little to each them.  These people clearly do not always know what they don’t know.  That’s a dangerous thing.  When being paid for the effort that goes into providing advice, or an opinion, it is frustrating when that advice is ignored, but it’s the client’s option to adopt or reject the advice.  When the advice is being provided free of charge, it can become a personal affront when the advice is not heeded, or not appreciated.  “Thank you” goes a long way.  I do not often run into this directly, but am now thinking of when I’ve been asked to opine on camera equipment.  One incident which still sticks in my “craw” is when I was asked to provide input on a lens to use on a particular camera for a specific purpose.  Because the person was not looking for expensive, professional grade, equipment with which I am most familiar, I actually had to spend time doing research.  Thankfully, the internet makes that relatively easy, but I recall spending nearly an hour on researching and crafting an email with a description of the options, cost and benefits of a few lenses.  All without ever receiving even an email reply or thank you.  Such experiences are instructive when considering any future requests for help!

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