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dealing with unreasonable requests

Posted Jun 06 2011 10:59am

if you work in the web industry (or in any other industry really), chances are you’ve been there – a client (or potential client) asks you something that’s just not possible in terms of time or budget. just yesterday i got an email asking me if i was able to do a project that i calculated out to be less than minimum wage in british columbia if i took it on.

so how, as professionals, do we deal with unreasonable requests?
obviously most people’s gut reactions is to give the equivalent of the middle finger via email. i know that’s how i feel sometimes (but thankfully email lets you think about things first, then email later…). it’s an amateur response to a bad situation, and as web professionals, we can be better than slinging insults.

does the person understand what’s involved?
if they don’t, then maybe it’s best to write a quick response as to what would be involved in the task, and therefore explain why it’s not a reasonable request. and simply leave it at.

if they do understand, what are their motives?
if there is an unreasonable deadline for them, that could be why they’re asking for an absurd deadline for you. and again, it’s easy to explain that you can’t (or won’t) work like that – and possibly propose an alternate or scaled down solution. i doubt anyone’s motives are to insult when asking someone else to do work, so try and think past being insulted (or feel that way for a bit to get it out of your system – and then respond).

our society moves quickly, and sometimes at an unreasonable rate. it’s also too easy to quickly lash back online, as is evident on any website with comments, social media site, message board, or any email exchange gone wrong. personally, i’ve been guilty myself of that from time to time. i have, however, made a conscious effort lately to be more educational than insulting in these situations, and the majority of the time it’s resulted in updated (to be reasonable) expectations instead – which is really best result – hopefully getting paid what you want and doing the work in the time it actually takes to do it properly.

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