Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Igor Starkov from Pexels

According to relationship expert John Gottman, it takes five positive interactions (aka “deposits”) to make up for one negative interaction. Gottman was referring to romantic relationships, but the same holds true for professional ones.

Do you build trust at work by making “deposits” regularly? Or do you think having an amazing portfolio and doing great work for your clients is enough?

Here are five seemingly harmless things I have seen people do, or, admittedly, I have done myself that get in the way of building trust.

1. Talking Too Much

Every client meeting provides an opportunity to build trust. Resist your urge to talk. Let the client talk 80% of the time. You have one job — to focus on listening in an active mode. When someone feels heard, it builds trust, loyalty, and commitment in the relationship. …

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Morgan Housel on Unsplash

In my last article, Your Clients Will Thank You for Charging More, I talked about creative professionals who price work based on their “costs” to produce it, not on their value, which leads to underpricing and a ton of problems. But what is the right price to charge? How do you figure out your value?

Let me tell you a story.

When I started out as a freelance web designer in Hong Kong, I charged as little as HK$3,000 (~CA$500) to build a website. How did I come up with that number? Well, that was basically my monthly cost of living. …

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by lucas Favre on Unsplash

I started my career in the creative service industry 20+ years ago, and I’ve heard everyone from freelancers to agency owners sigh about the same things over and over:

“I should just get a job somewhere because my income can’t cover my living costs”

“I feel like I’m on a hamster wheel and burning out.”

“We have a good portfolio, but we always seem to attract clients who aren’t right for us.”

But, inevitably, when I asked, “Do you feel you should have charged more?” — the answer was always a resounding, “YES!”

What makes us charge less than we should?

1. Imposter syndrome

Simply put, we think we are just not good enough. We question our competence and charging less seems like the right thing to do. Sometimes we think we’re not as “legit” just because we’re going solo or running a small firm. …

BeansBox office in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong in 2012
BeansBox office in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong in 2012

“Delivery for B. Liu?”

“Yep, that’s me. You can bring it up.”

Five minutes later, two guys were shuffling down the office’s hallway carrying an enormous package: my brand-new, high-tech, full-body massage chair, which I planned to keep in the office until I moved to a bigger house in a few months.

As they crammed this beast through the door and into my office, one of the delivery guys said to me, “You must be the boss here.”

“Nope. Not the boss. I’d rather not be the boss. Ever.” I replied with a grin. They didn’t believe me and laughed. …


Belle Liu

Client Director @Apply Digital. Previously: agency owner @BeansBox, law-school dropout

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store