Skills Swaps & Love Languages
Skills swaps can be a great way to get something you need. Especially when you first start up in business and are establishing yourself as the go to person in your field, it can be a great way of getting testimonials.
Where it all goes tits up is if your whole “business” ends up a series of swaps rather than invoiced work.
It goes something like this:
⚠️You meet someone at a networking event. They seem lovely. You connect and have a 1:1 and start to get to know them.
⚠️They really want/need your *thing* and you KNOW you could really make a difference for them. It would be a great opportunity for showcasing your stuff within your network.
⚠️You come to an arrangement where you swap your services and it’s all good. Until it isn’t.
⚠️You feel like you’re giving more value than you’re getting back. There’s an imbalance.
⚠️You didn’t set clear objectives and boundaries at the beginning of the work. It seems tricky to address this now.
⚠️You want to avoid an awkward conversation, so things continue. Resentment starts to creep in. The relationship sours a little.
⚠️Other connections within your network get wind that you’re up for swaps. You don’t want to upset them by saying no. You agree to another one.
⚠️Before long you’re busy working for nothing except a whole load of services you don’t actually want/need.
⚠️The bills are piling up, but Mastercard don’t want [insert your product/service] instead of this month’s direct debit...
It’s an easy place to end up when you first start in business. It can be hard to say no but sometimes you’ve got to. At the very least make sure you’re swapping something that’s of equal value to both parties and you’re both clear on who gets what from the start. And, if you’re prone to being a people pleaser it can be hard to say no if the swap just isn’t going to work for you. You need to learn to say no, kindly but firmly.
You’ve got to value yourself enough to create and stick to boundaries. Your time is precious, and you can never get it back once it’s spent. Maybe you’d be better off investing your time into marketing your *thing* more seriously, to generate income than doing the swap? That way you can always pay for the stuff you need rather than being tempted to do a swap.
I’m not against them but I’m much more discerning if approached these days. Because I’m innately generous with my time and sharing my knowledge I’ve been bitten on the bum several times. I know that if I stray from my boundaries and over deliver then I can get taken advantage of by people whose values are not aligned with mine. I can end up giving too much and then it becomes an expectation. The knock-on effect is I don’t feel appreciated and start to feel resentful. When, actually, if I’d stuck to my own boundaries and valued my time more, I probably wouldn’t have given so much away.
The tell-tale signs regarding values not being aligned are when you find yourself saying ‘if that was me, I’d have X’.
For example, you offer to cook someone dinner and they turn up empty handed. Whereas, if you’re invited to dinner, you always take a bottle of wine or dessert or offer to contribute in some other way. You might think they’re a bit rude because you have different values. They might not think anything of it and if they’d offer to cook dinner, they might be surprised that you’d taken wine.
You are each judging from your own values/standards. We often talk about the golden rule of treating others how you’d like to be treated. Whereas actually people feel more valued if you follow the platinum rule and treat them how they’d like to be treated.
One of my favourite examples of this concept is the 5 Love Languages by Dr Gary Chapman. The premise is quite simple: different people with different personalities give and receive love in different ways. By learning to recognise these preferences in yourself and those around you, you can learn to identify the root of your conflicts, connect more profoundly, and grow closer.
The five love languages are:
1) Acts of service
2) Giving & receiving gifts
3) Quality time
4) Words of affirmation
5) Physical touch
You can do the quick quiz and find out more here - https://5lovelanguages.com/resources
My number one love language is ‘acts of service’ followed by ‘gifts’. So it means a lot to me when my hubby does stuff to help me out without being asked. He’s also really good at thoughtful presents. I feel very loved. It’s a massive contrast to my previous relationship where I felt very undervalued. Hubby’s number one love language is words of affirmation followed by physical touch which are much lower down on my priority list. Because we know this about each other we can make an effort to show our love and appreciation in ways that are valued by the receiver.
Gifts v time
Here’s another example:
Let’s think about parent A who shows their affection by spending money on their child. They are showering the child with expensive gifts. They also make a point of talking about the price of everything. Because in their mind, more expensive = better. Therefore the higher the spend means the more they love the child. Parent B is the opposite. They prefer spending quality time the with the child rather than spending lots of money on them. It’s easy to see how the parents are poles apart in their ways of showing love to the child. (They aren’t together anymore btw – you could see how it was never going to work.)
What we aren’t sure about in this scenario is which the child values more – gifts or time. Will the child grow up thinking that because parent B doesn’t spend lots of money on them that they don’t love them? Or will they have fond memories of the quality time spent with parent B? Time will tell.
Back to the skills swaps for business. It can be particularly challenging if you’ve found yourself in a situation where it doesn’t feel like a fair exchange because the person you are swapping with doesn’t have the same priorities/values as you.
Saying no or this isn’t working for me anymore does not make you a bad person. It’s ok to have healthy boundaries by maintaining your values, beliefs, opinions, and preferences. Not having the boundaries can be a reflection of your self-worth.
I will leave you with this quote- ‘Until your value yourself, you won’t value your time.’ M Scott Peck. Hopefully my musings have given you some food for thought about how you are valuing yourself and the boundaries you’ve got in place.
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