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Invoice left unpaid from foreign branch of good national customer: what to do?

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Thank you John, it makes much sense.

I’m going to think about it.

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John Freeman

Hey Bel, your analysis here is spot on the dynamics.

Albeit both options may be viable depending on the context and people, and in the end, you know best, I tend to agree with John here: I'd ask for payment.

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John FreemanBel
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Thanks Lucio.

Then it seems I made a mistake here, in fact you had already suggested that route (asking for payment) to me.

It’s done, in any case. From now on I’ll follow the route of asking to be paid in these situations and stop thinking about this.

Truth is, as I understand you and John say, it’s not my job to take into account the mistakes of the client in making me work for something, and it’s manipulative to go silent on the part of the client.

The good thing is that, since I probably used to contribute to setting the stage for these episodes by my early insecurities, the situation is less likely to repeat in the future.

Learning for me: never ever postpone monthly invoicing. With this client, to avoid the hyperbolic discounting effect, I sent timesheets while waiting for the work to be concluded. Always invoicing monthly even on (significant) fractions of work from now on. This would have avoided the whole bind.

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Lucio BuffalmanoJohn Freeman
Hey John,
I reread your post and it makes total sense.
Thank you for taking the time for this.
Truth is I am probably continuing to still have some sketchy, black-or-white reasoning.
Quote from John Freeman on September 19, 2022, 12:41 pm

Here what I think is going on is that you don't know actually why the client does not come back to him.

First, why not just ask what is happening? It's totally fair and normal to enquire. It's also a sign of respect as you show the client that you are concerned about him/her and that you are willing to take into account his/her context in the delay/absence of answer.

If they're on the verge of burnout, you want to know because you (genuinely) care. So here you can use your caring side to your advantage instead of your disadvantage (doormat syndrome/naive people: you give but does not get fair retribution). See Cipolla's theory here. See Lucio's post on doormat syndrome here. You can also check resources on assertiveness here. Or for a shorter reference this article from Lucio. 

From there you can adjust. "I was busy.." -> you address it. "I forgot" -> you adress it.

You can also introspect as why you don't re-initiate communication on an emotional/belief/behavioural pattern level.

Totally spot on.

I was burned in the past by two clients who used "not answering" as a manipulative pattern to demean me and try not to pay.

In those cases I went overboard with trying to reestablish a communication, to no avail.

What I have done here was superimposing those bad experiences on this new situation.

It's totally possible this new situation may have been totally different. And in any case trying once more would not have cost me particularly.

I used to assume I had done something wrong.

Here we go in the mindset problem. This comes back to wrong programming, self-esteem and self-confidence issues. Why in the World would you have done anything wrong? Exactly. Rationally it does not make sense. Emotionally it does if one has the fear of not being good enough, not delivering enough value, being rejected, not accepted, not being love or not being considered. One will do everything in his power to feel good about himself or his work, being accepted, being loved and considered. So if your brain thinks that by contacting the client again there is a risk of pain, it will prevent you from doing that. So it's about reprogramming as well.

You are right John, I had this tendency (hopefully overcoming it) to think a "mistake" could cost a relationship (personal and, even, professional).

That's what I got from some manipulative people in my life. I think Lucio also pointed out to me that I could work on repairing relationships.

I now see I've been unconsciously working on solving this bind by becoming better in my knowledge and technical expertise, but there's a deeper emotional level to be addressed.

On my side, it is done and I will not contact him again, one because I already did my part, and two because contacting him after this could be interpreted as "asking for something back", and that is not my intention.

I think here there's a faulty reasoning. From my perspective, I just don't understand why that would be the case. For me the situation is simple: client needs your service, you do the work, client pays you. That's the social and legal contract between you 2. Exchange of value. Period. So you are due your part. They OWE this to you. There is no way around it. Yes, you are asking for something: your due payment. When I go to the cinema, I'm not pissed when they ask me to pay. If they are pissed that you ask for payment of the service they asked you, then we have a problem and we are in manipulative territory.

My only intention here was communicating I valued the relationship more than being paid in this case (which is true).

Here, I think we have another faulty reasoning. Man, what you write above says really good things about you. It shows again that you are a caring individual. We need more of those in the World.

Here, we have an "either/or" assumption: either you value the relationship or you get paid. Well, first if they value the relationship they should pay. So by asking them to pay, you allow them to do their part of the relationship. If they don't, then you can still communicate respect for them and the relationship AND ask for the payment. I see absolutely no reason here that the two should be separated.

You are right here as well. Thank you so much for pointing this out.

It's great to have a forum when one can share and reflect on these things.

A true mastermind group Lucio has created.

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John Freeman

Quote from Bel on September 20, 2022, 9:53 pm
Hey John,
I reread your post and it makes total sense.
Thank you for taking the time for this.

I'm glad you appreciate it 🙂

Truth is I am probably continuing to still have some sketchy, black-or-white reasoning.

I agree with your analysis. I would recommend to have a file where you write down everything you notice that you want to improve about your mindset.

Congratulations to you for thinking about it and being open to my feed-back. That's the learner's attitude!

Update: unlike in the other previous cases, where I asked for payment, I have unexpectedly received an answer from this client (to whom I had communicated I waived my latest fees after not hearing from him anymore).

Good day attorney and I hope you may have forgiven the many missed answers.

I really thank you for your courtesy and I count to make a general point with you during the next weeks.

I am unsure how to best interpret this. I think the moment of clarification might come when and if he calls me. For the moment, my feeling is that not answering on my side is best.

If contact is reestablished, I feel I will have to (sub)communicate that I expect a professional relationship based on mutual respect and open talking from now on.

Please feel free to comment if you have any thoughts on this or if you see this differently guys.

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Lucio Buffalmano

Yeah, what you said: no reply and regain some power on the call by telling him you expect more responsiveness next time.

You can also say "for this time I let it slip, but please if we are to work again together... (and then lay your expectations)".

That also sub-communicates that you're not chasing for more work, which is good.

Bel has reacted to this post.
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Thank you Lucio,

this makes me understand part of the issue was also that I probably subcommunicated the opposite to him in the past.

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Lucio Buffalmano
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