Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Freelancer Wants To Send Client’s Calls to Voicemail

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a client who has no boundaries. She regularly calls me late in the evening and on weekends. I have made the mistake of answering; I work freelance and do want to be available to my clients, but she takes it too far. It’s almost never urgent when she calls. I think she’s catching up on work and checking off boxes when she gets to something she thinks she needs to address with me.

Is it OK to let her calls go to voicemail when they come during my off hours? I don’t want to lose my client, but this random calling is getting ridiculous. -- After-Hours Calls

DEAR AFTER-HOURS CALLS: You have every right to allow this client’s calls go to voicemail when she calls you at random hours of the day. That doesn’t mean that you are an inattentive worker; it can simply mean that you are otherwise occupied. It is smart to listen to her messages in a timely manner so that you can discern whether the matter at hand requires an immediate response. If it does, call her back. If it is not so urgent, you can talk to her about the subject the next time you have a call, or you can email her with whatever resolution the call is requesting.

You have control over yourself. Don’t ever forget that.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I received an electronic request to write a recommendation for a man who used to work with me. Generally speaking, I am happy to help people out with recommendations, but this one is awkward. Even though it was many years ago, I thought this man did a terrible job when he worked with me. He was usually late for work. He often had a bad attitude. Most of all, he wasn’t good at his job.

He was young then, so I can assume that he has improved. But I don’t want to respond and give him a bad review. I don’t know how to reach him. I think it might be best for me to ignore the request. What do you think? -- Bad Recommendation

DEAR BAD RECOMMENDATION: This is curious. It could be that nobody else is willing to write this person a recommendation, and that’s why he resorted to you. It could be that this person does not realize how poorly you felt his work performance was. Who knows?

If you believe that your “recommendation” would be critical of this man in order for you to be honest, I would agree that you should just not complete the form. Because the whole process is electronic, you may be able to decline online without seeing or talking to anyone so that you formally close the loop. Otherwise, you can just not do it.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)