DEAR HARRIETTE: I feel like I’m always fighting with my main client about every little thing. She does the nickel-and-dime dance. Whatever we are working on, she tries to get me (and her other contractors) to pitch in about 30 percent of the work for free. She does this by asking for favors and then throwing in that she wants us to volunteer for whatever those favors are. Whenever I have pushed back, she gets her back up and says things that make me feel like I’m being selfish by wanting to be paid for my services. This has been going on for a few years -- the entire time she has been my client. I bet you are going to say I should walk away, but it isn’t that easy. I need the work, and I like the project. I just don’t appreciate the way that my client constantly tries to manipulate me. How can I tamp that down? -- Enough Already, Atlanta
DEAR ENOUGH ALREADY: If you plan to keep this client, there is a certain amount of acquiescence that you will have to continue to offer. This is how she works. You can, however, get crystal clear about each assignment, its parameters and the compensation being offered. After getting clarity on that, if your client adds other tasks onto the work, inform her what you will bill for those extra services before you execute them. This will likely ruffle some feathers, but it is the only way you will have any power in this negotiation. Stay positive when dealing with your client. Don’t fall to her ways of engaging. Stick to your professional demeanor.
DEAR HARRIETTE: A colleague of mine told me about a water aerobics class that she has been taking that she says is awesome. I have recently started exercising and think this could be good for me, especially since it’s in the water, which means low impact. I have been experiencing some discomfort in my knees recently because I’ve been doing a lot of walking to lose weight.
My problem is vanity. I hate to admit it, but I don’t want to go to a swim class and put on a bathing suit in front of anyone, let alone a colleague. I feel like I’m completely out of shape and ugly when I have on a swimsuit. How can I get over this and get my butt in the water? -- Too Shy, Boston
DEAR TOO SHY: Trust your colleague. People who go to these classes choose to do so to get healthy. Yes, it may take a bit of courage to be so bare at first, but you can do it. Start by wearing your bathing suit to the pool so you don’t have to change in front of anyone. Bring a towel that you wrap around your hips until you slip into the water. Chances are, once you start class, you will notice that people are paying attention to the teacher rather than sizing each other up. You can do it. If you commit to it, the bonus is that you will start liking your body better!
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)