In the book The 48 Laws of Power, author Robert Greene shares 48 powerful laws of wisdom. Law 2 reads: Never put too Much Trust in Friends, Learn how to use Enemies.
In simple terms, this means Never Hire a Friend. In my post For Sale By Owner – Don’t Do It, I said the following:
Last piece of advice – never ever hire a friend as your listing agent (buyer agent is OK). You will push your agent weekly for updates and hound them for the sale. And very likely end up firing them. If they are your friend they won’t be after it’s all over.
Robert Greene goes into greater detail explaining why you should never hire a friend.
When you decide to hire a friend, you gradually discover the qualities he or she has kept hidden. Strangely enough, it is your act of kindness that unbalances everything. People want to feel they deserve their good fortune. The receipt of a favor can become oppressive: It means you have been chosen because you are a friend, not necessarily because you are deserving. There is almost a touch of condensation in the act of hiring friends that secretly afflicts them. The injury will come out slowly: A little more honesty, flashes of resentment and envy here and there, and before you know it your friendship fades. The more favors and gifts you supply to revive the friendship, the less gratitude you receive.
I read The 48 Laws of Power three years ago, so I get it. If the job involves my money and you are my friend, I’m not hiring you. I’ll recommend you to work with me as a co-worker as long as my money is not at risk. However, I’m rarely in a position to hire anyone, so how does Law 2 apply to me?
As a web developer with solid tech skills, I often end up on the other side of the relationship. I’m the friend being asked to perform work. Up until recently, I thought this was a safe place to be. After all, I’m a professional so I know I can deliver the work and help out a friend in the process. What could go wrong?
Since I started my Summer of George, I’ve noticed that people don’t respect my time. Since I don’t work and don’t need money, they seem to value my time at zero. They fail to return emails. They fail to call or show up when they promised. Since I’m their pal, why should I be treated with the respect given to any other vendor?
Either I need to learn how to control the business relationship with friends or I need to extend Law 2 to Never let a Friend Hire You. Your thoughts?