Are You Sometimes A Prima Donna?
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Feb 22, 2012
I have to own up to something. There are times when I’m one of the biggest prima donna’s in the world. I don’t mean Italian opera singer (or necessarily any Italian or singer for that manner, but it was the first definition in the dictionary) that has to be the center of it all. I actually don’t even mean having to be the center of it all. I mean the second definition from Merriam-Webster: “a vain or undisciplined person who finds it difficult to work under direction or as part of a team“. That’s a shame, but also a necessity; let’s talk about it.
Most of you know I do a lot of writing. Writing is basically a solo occupation, whether you’re writing for yourself or someone else. Unless you’re a script writer of some kind it’s just you and your resources; that’s pretty much it. Even though most of the time you’re writing for yourself, there are times when you’re writing for someone else because they’re paying you. In those times, you’ve actually negotiated whether you’re going to write for those people as much as whether they want you to write for them. It’s an important distinction to make, and I’m going to make it by telling a story.
Back in December I was asked if I could provide some content for a site whose focus is the same as my main income occupation; not giving any details. Because I knew the guy, I said that I would set up a one month contract at a reduced rate so he could get an idea of the types of things I would write, and if he and his new company found them acceptable then we would negotiate a new contract based on my writing rates.
The assignment on the other side was tasked to someone other than my friend, and I have to admit that this guy kind of immediately got on my nerve when he told me when he wanted the content. It wasn’t at the same time I’d agreed upon with my friend, and I could have ignored it, but during that period I didn’t have anything else to do, knew the field anyway, and wrote 10 articles in two days. I thought they were pretty high quality articles, not my opinion but deep stuff, and I’ll admit I was proud of them. I was also proud at how fast I’d produced them, and felt that I had over-delivered for a client; that’s how small businesses should perform, wouldn’t you agree?
I sent them out earlier than they’d been requested as well, thinking the guy would appreciate it. Then… nothing. No acknowledgment of receiving them, nothing about what he or anyone else thought about them, and worst of all, no payment. Now, because it was my friend, someone I’ve actually worked with over the years, I knew he’d take care of me. However, it was now someone else I didn’t know, and I wasn’t pleased with any of it.
After 3 weeks I contacted the guy & asked if he’d received the articles, and then asked about being paid. He wrote saying he did receive the articles, nothing else, and said I had to send an invoice to get paid. I had never had to send an invoice to my friend before but this is kind of a newer business and I guess that’s how they run things. Still, I was irked that I hadn’t been told this beforehand; it’s not in the contract after all.
I immediately sent the invoice and then I waited… and waited… and waited… Nothing. I did finally hear from my friend who apologized that the company hadn’t paid me and that he’d just heard about it, and he said the check would immediately be coming, out of his private account yet; that’s just not right, but I appreciated his looking out for me.
Then came an email from this guy basically saying they wanted more articles, and that was that. Nothing about the previous articles, nothing about how many, and I didn’t like it one bit. I didn’t like it because I don’t see someone asking for more articles as telling me whether what I’d given them before was good, bad, or what they wanted. As someone who went above and beyond, I thought I deserved to at least have that acknowledged; come on, at least a thank you for what I’d done before right?
That part, the acknowledgment part, makes me a prima donna. In a way, writers aren’t supposed to care what people think about what they write. However, business people are supposed to care, and maybe that’s where things fell apart. So many people in business, especially those in leadership positions, don’t believe that they ever have to give praise to anyone. They feel that people go to work and if nothing’s ever said to them and they get paid, that should be enough. They have no problems telling people what they did wrong, but telling people that they do good… nada.
I’m not that guy. Y’all know I also do leadership and motivational training, and when I wrote this article on my business blog last year titled Why Positive Motivation Is Needed, I wrote this line: “Daily encouragement can make people feel good and make them want to work for you as hard as they can.” Who here doesn’t believe that if you heard that on a consistent basis, especially if it was true, that you wouldn’t feel good and work harder?
This is also why we blog and love blog comments. Whereas there are a lot of people that will tell you that it’s more important to get business than it is comments, which may or may not be true, it’s the camaraderie, the recognition of our hard work and dedication to our blogs and our audience that we’d like to know is appreciated. In a way, the want of comments makes us all prima donnas. This is why I’m thankful when I get “real” comments on this blog; I like knowing that in some fashion I’ve touched people, whether they agree with me or not. I’m betting you do as well.
Who else is willing to own up to their inner prima donna? Come on, you know it’s true. 😉