Home – New Forums Other discussions Dealing with “consultant resentment”

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    Sonya Comiskey
    • Total posts: 1

    Hi all

    Long time lurker, first time poster :-)

    Just wondering if anyone else has experienced the phenomenon I call “consultant resentment”… One of my business interest involves contract Project Management in the buidling and construction industry.

    Occasionally, I find people (not isolated to one client and actually something I’ve been guilty of myself as a client) make disparaging remarks about “how much money I’m on” and the like. As anyone who contracts / consults realises, when you take off the 40% for tax and GST and appropriate insurances and other costs + the “if you don’t work, you don’t earn” factor – it’s not really that much money! And I’ve got post graduate qualifications and have worked for many years to accumlate the experience I am charging for….. I sound a bit defensive don’t I? It just irks me a little.

    I realise that it an inappropriate and off the cuff remark indicative of a cultural mindset and I don’t want to respond by getting into a long discussion re: the above and coming off all defensive.

    I’m wondering how other people deal with this? I usually respond with something like “sure, but your realise my services can be wound up with a week’s notice and I am self employed…” but I’m not sure this cuts the mustard.

    What do you think? What do you say?

    • Total posts: 11,464

    Hi Sonya,

    Welcome aboard… that’s a great question that you’ve posed there, and I’ve experienced it myself.

    I’ll be interested to hear what suggestions people have to offer for handling it.

    All the best to you,

    • Total posts: 237

    I think of it this way. If it was personal, they wouldn’t say those things in front of me, rather do it behind my back. So in most cases, they’re just venting. Just treat it as a compliment, acknowledge that yes, there are benefits, and offer some simple advice on how to do it themselves. That way you are helping them, so there is less chance of resentment.

    So there are one of three results:
    1. They disregard your offer, but now you’re one of the “good consultants”.
    2. They take your advice, but after investigating, realise it’s hard. Now they have more respect for your position.
    3. They take your advice and make it on their own. Now you’ve got another roaming consultant who’s potentially talking about you to their clients.

    Of course there are also jerks, who want what you have built, handed to them. Just ignore those ones.

    • Total posts: 2,344

    Hi Sonya…

    Great to see you here :)

    What an interesting thread to open for your first post! Fortunately, I have not had anyone say this to me, but most of my work is by phone/email so it’s a bit harder for people to say such things in my presence… or, maybe I’m not charging enough to generate such remarks?

    My instinct (not necessarily right…) would be to say something a little tongue in cheek like, “well, it’s not really that much – less than building a new house” (or whatever your building/construction clients deal in)….

    • Total posts: 1,026

    Im often reluctant to tell family and friends the hourly rate I charge for this reason.

    You tell them the figure and then their brains start ticking over, multiplying the number by 40, and then by 52, and then wondering why you still live in a rented house and have been wearing the same pair of Converse’s since 1996.

    Very few people understand.

    It’s not quite the same example, but I cam across this article yesterday which your post reminded me of:

    • Total posts: 345

    Try not to go into justifyings too much. Explain the lack of job security and other benefits such as employer paid leave and superannuation entitlements that you have to fund yourself out of your business. Most reasonable and sensible people will get this..hopefully

    • Total posts: 731

    Probably best to say nothing in truth.

    But when it does happen, take a moment to remind yourself that you’re where you are because you’re good at what you do and you’ve earned your position.

    Shaukat Adam Khalid
    • Total posts: 1,528

    no need to defend yourself unless you feel guilty. just share this story before the agreement is signed.


    Chuck worked for years as the head maintenance technician at a large manufacturing plant. His job was to keep the old production machines running smoothly … and he was very good at it.

    He knew the machinery inside and out.

    The company was eventually sold, and the new owner wanted to cut costs. He noticed the equipment hadn’t broken down in years. “Why do I need Chuck?” he thought. So he fired Chuck.

    Everything went smoothly for a couple months. The new owner was patting himself on the back for having made such a wise decision.

    But then the most important machine in the plant suddenly broke down. All production came to a halt.

    The new owner panicked. He was losing thousands of dollars by the minute.

    The plant was full of idle workers … but nobody had any idea how to fix the big machine.

    Everyone said the only one who knew how to repair that machine was Chuck.

    With reluctance, the owner called Chuck and asked him to take a look.

    “Sure. I’d be happy to come in and help you out,” said Chuck. “But I’m in business for myself now as a consultant. And I charge $60 an hour for my time, charged by the minute.”

    The owner agreed and asked Chuck to come take a look.

    Chuck showed up to the plant within the hour. He pulled a hammer out of his toolbox and began lightly tapping parts here and there.

    After about a minute, he stopped. He cocked his ear and lightly tapped the same place three more times.

    Then, with a purposeful stare, he reared back the hammer and gave the machine a mighty whack.

    The machine started right up. And everyone went back to work.

    Chuck replaced the hammer in his toolbox and wiped his hands.

    Without a word he pulled out a pad of paper and a pen. He neatly wrote out this simple invoice:

    Repair of equipment … $10,000.

    “Ten thousand dollars?!?” sputtered the owner. “All you did was whack the machine with a hammer! That’s outrageous! You said you charged $60 an hour. I demand an itemization of all your work.”

    Chuck took back the invoice, retrieved the pen from his shirt pocket, and scribbled a few words on the paper. He handed the invoice back.

    Here’s what he wrote:

    One minute of time to tap the machine … $1
    Knowing exactly where and how hard to whack it … $9,999

    The Take Away

    It’s a fictitious story, but it drives home an important point.

    Information and expertise are valuable.

    Chuck had it. The owner didn’t. Without it, the owner was losing thousands of dollars by the minute.

    • Total posts: 32

    Welcome to the forum.

    I have experienced something similar to what you describe – though that was when I was working in a big global consulting firm. While we never disclosed the daily rate, it was common conjecture that we must all be well paid.

    I would concur that you say nothing – smile and bear it. Let your work do the talking. If they just want to vent, nothing you say will change that. Its about them not you. If those around you really want to know, they will ask you rather than make comments. Then, you can take the opportunity to share the pros and cons.

    Harder to say than do – but take a deep breath and remember that you are doing this for you and not for the kudos from people you may or may not ever meet again.


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