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Using Labor Illusion to Demonstrate Value

There are 2 scenarios, and both of them are bad.

A) You tell the client that you can solve their problem in 10 minutes.Why it’s bad: the client, having no notion of the time and investment needed to get so efficient, will often balk at being asked to pay “full price for a rushed job”.

B) You tell the client when the problem could be solved in 10-12 days.Why it’s bad: it requires creativity to devise a specific delay and stick with it. It also delays payment, postpones the client’s needs being met, and is just an unnecessary net loss for everybody involved.

Although I said both are bad, I prefer scenario B). Why? Science calls it the “Labor Illusion” People value things more when they (think) they see the work behind them.

In the spirit of “if a tree falls and nobody hears it” – “if the client is unable to see the true value of 10-minute service, and making it seem like it takes longer will make them appreciate it more, is it really an illusion?”

And people

But is that dishonest? I would argue it isn’t. Honesty is the absence of lies, while truthfulness is actively making known the whole truth of the matter. Honesty is a mark of a professional, but truthfulness is mostly a step too far. American Bar Association agrees with this.

If your client respects you enough to pay full price for the 10 minutes, that’s ideal. If not, a little illusion will save you both from wasting time.

And if you don’t like that

I understand that, just beware of myopic clients. Maja Puškarić, a LinkedIn expert and personal branding coach, and I talked about a case where she chose to decline payment for a lot of work rather than be insulted by the client’s “negotiating offer”. Find out more about what she learned and changed her behavior in the latest podcast episode of the “What I should have charged” series here:

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