So, a guy walks into a diner, and no this is not a joke, more, a scenario. So he walks in and says to the waitress “please bring me a tall glass containing 7 ice cubes, filled with carbonated water, 2 teaspoons of sugar and a squeeze of half a lemon and half a lime. The waitress stares at him and says “how about a Sprite or 7-Up instead?” The man insists it has to be what he says it has to be, not whatever they have been serving for over 50 years.
Why would someone walk into an establishment and tell them how to make a soda when they already have the formula and pour it hundreds of times each day? I don’t know why, but some people do it. I don’t know if they are control freaks, or they think they know better, or they just want it exactly so. No matter what the reason they either need to bring in soda in a can from a vending machine or just order something different to drink if they feel their soda is not balanced.
Now, sometimes these people are justified and know the waitress or waiter just does not know better. For example, the guy walks in and asks for a tall glass of ice coffee. The waitress or waiter might say “we don’t have ice coffee”. The businessman or person who knows what he wants will ask “Do you have coffee? Do you have ice? I know you have a tall glass, please bring me a cup of coffee and a tall glass of ice”. In a modern day she might say “thats not in our computer” so he says “charge me separately for a glass of ice and a cup of coffee if you need to”.
Where is this all going? Seem senseless, but the fact is, you can’t or should not tell people how to do their jobs. If they tell you they can’t, you offer an alternative suggestion, but you never demand they do it your way when they have been doing this for longer than you have been alive in most cases. Let them bring you the soda as they have it formulated… don’t tell them how to make it. Don’t tell them how to serve it, just ask for it, if you don’t like it, either suck it up and don’t dine there again, or order something different next time you are there, but never tell them how to do it. If they are obviously new, give them some useful advice and ask them to give it a try, but don’t demand it.
Most professionals know what they are doing. Some do not. But they are professionals, and they are trained, skilled and experienced. Some are better than others. But never assume you know better than the professional how to do it. If they are not doing it to your liking, ask them “is it not possible and/or how much more will it cost to get it to my liking”?
I posted this tonight because I am tired of people telling me how to do my job. If they trust me, leave me alone, let me do my job, if you want it done differently, make a suggestion, but if you are going to tell me exactly how to do it, don’t do either of us a favor, don’t hire me. Its not that I don’t want the work, but I know how to do what I do. If its something outside of my area of expertise, educate me, but don’t assume your way is right, my way is wrong and if it comes out all messed up, its because the person who hired me was giving me all these guidelines to the point where I cannot concentrate on what I was hired to do. Now I know why some people yes you to death and do what they want anyway… sometimes its for the money, sometimes its because they believe they know better than you and will give it to you their way. I almost prefer that than someone that will tell me up front what they will and won’t do. With all my subcontractors I know their weaknesses and strengths, so I know when it comes back in post production that I have to concentrate more on audio, video, or just edit it as is.
Anytime I have told someone to do it my way, guys that have usually brought me back A+ material brought me back a nightmare to edit. Now I know better, I put a person on the job and I know when it comes back how much work I have to do. If its a newbie, I go out on the job and train them to do it my way.
So now, I am working on a job where I did things by the “rulebook” of that particular person. Its a nightmare. I am ashamed and I’ve learned my lesson. I need to do it my way, the same way I have for nearly 15 years. When they ask me for something different I either need to lie and say ‘ok’ and fake it, or if there is time at a live event say to them “please, let me do this my way, its never failed me, and if the client complains, don’t pay me”. You never want to bite the hand that feeds you but at the same time you need to express to them “I haven’t had much success with that method, allow me this once to do it the way I know how so we are absolutely sure there will not be any issues”. The reasonable person will trust you, and if not, you need to find work elsewhere. And if they find that you were right 3-9+ months down the road, you need to charge them more. Not out of greed, but because you know something they don’t, they have had issues and this will help make up the money of the jobs you relied on but they felt someone else could do it better. Because, I promise you, if you are doing it right and can correct your mistakes in post, you should be charging more to begin with.
This is not or never to say you should not look to learn and excel and improve your skills. But if you know how something is going to look in post, stick to your guns and politely explain that you’ve done this before and if you don’t do it the way you know how, you might end up screwing it up. Sure does not sound to comforting and you might not get more work form this person (unless it turns out just as you say) but you have to take pride in your work and you have to prove that your way is the best way. Its not the ONLY way, but its the way that works best for you, and ultimately for the contractor, and the client. If it does not work… offer a full refund, because let’s face it, if you are not that confident, maybe you do need to be told how to do it.