Freelance Requires An Appreciative Stance, Ongoing
The discussion is not just about talking to clients about what the job entails or negotiating a
price. It is also about embracing an appreciative stance of engagement that bypasses a
“what’s in it for me” attitude or merely acquiescing and giving the client exactly “what they
want.” Instead, this ongoing conversation is about “how do move forward together” and is
built around dialogue that engages potential and possibility.
Appreciative conversations can be as simple as: How do you see this project expanding
your market share, leadership or visibility? Tell us about a pivotal leadership moment at
your company that made you appreciate working there. What is the advantage of this
product or project when it comes to expanding your visibility? These questions seek to
explore and engage quality moments, strategic advantages, and shared visions are merely
examples of positive questions that move the conversation forward to create something
new. The Encyclopedia of Positive Questions: Using Appreciative Inquiry to Bring Out the
Best in Your Organization is an excellent resource for reframing interviews (Whitney,
Cooperrider, Trosten-Bloom & Kaplin, 2005).
These inspired moments change the dynamic from the freelancer “working for” to “working
with” the client and that is an important distinction that fosters the relational connection that
promotes improvisation within an organization. Once the client and freelancer decide to
move forward, then the freelancer and client must mutually coordinate their work,
meetings, planning, and preparation with a clear-cut understanding of the most efficient
way to connect and determine if they are on course.
The freelancers with an edge are those who present another way of mining opportunity or
examining change from a more enlightened vantage point. As challengers, they push their
client to envision their situation or product with an appreciative capacity that is built on
mutual respect. It is not “yes” people that are valued but those who value the relational
and creative process that encourages ongoing and mutual exchange. Although the
stereotype of the “shark” exists in business, the relationally skilled improvisers and those
examining ways to make work a win-win situation for all are quietly leading the way by
example in this new economy.