Nobody wants to hear, “What you are doing is highly unprofessional,” or any variation of this statement–especially when they are running their own business. After all, we freelance editors are professionals, and so we must act like professionals.
When I interact with clients, my emails are very professionally written. I am cordial and friendly, but not all buddy-buddy with them. I do my best to have a professional demeanor with them and also in the few classes I have taken as a freelance editor. I sign all of my emails “Best regards, Suzelle M. Fiedler.”
Now I have a small dilemma. I have a client who is also a good friend of mine from high school.
She and I have, over the last thirty years, gone to silly movies and pop-star concerts together, hung out and talked for hours about everything under the sun, and played arcade games and pinball together. She is lots of fun…and now I find myself in a business relationship with her.
So I must adapt.
In my emails to her about her project, I am friendly and cordial, but I am also careful not to sound too friendly. That means I do not insert phrases in my emails such as “Pretty cool, huh?” or “LOL.” After all, she and I are not seventeen anymore. I even sign my project-related emails to her as “Best regards, Suzelle M. Fiedler.” I haven’t heard any complaints from her about this.
There is, however, one thing I do with my friend that may seem unprofessional to some.
When I go over something she wrote on the website we are working on and I see that she has made corrections, I type a smiley emoji on the document on which I list corrections that need to be made. For me, it’s a way to give her a pat on the back for doing a good job correcting what I previously pointed out on the website. It’s a friendly gesture.
Too friendly? For someone I have known and been friends with for thirty years, I don’t think so. However, I would not do this with a client whom I did not know personally. That would risk the client thinking I am silly and…you guessed it…unprofessional.
If you, dear reader, have a client who is also a good friend, how do you draw the line between friendship and professionalism?