How to Stand By Your Value and Sidestep Bloodsuckers – While Still Remaining Approachable

If you don’t set healthy boundaries for yourself, people will set them for you.

And then they will violate them.
And then they will tell their friends that it’s OK to violate them.
All because you failed to set a precedent of value.

You know the types of conversations I’m talking about. Those unsolicited phone calls, emails or in-person requests from people you barely know (or don’t know at all) that want to abuse your expertise for their own personal gain without reciprocating any value in return.


Today I’m going to teach you how to handle these situations in a professional, approachable, value-driven way that (still) maintains your integrity, wastes minimal time and effort for both parties – all while simultaneously educating people on your boundaries.

1. “I just have one quick question.”

No, they don’t. Their “question” is rarely quick and usually requires a lengthy answer that you probably don’t have the time to offer.

An example of “one quick question” is, “What was the name of that satanic death metal band we listened to last night?” NOT, “How did you get your start as a writer?”

Next time this happens to you, try one of these responses:

o “I’m glad you asked! My free ebook addresses that issue in great detail. Download it here, read it, and if you still have questions when you’re finished, get back to me.” Delivers value and challenges them to work.

o “You know, that question would take about an hour to answer. When would you like to set up a one-on-one coaching session to do so?” Sets a precedent of value.

o “That’s a great question. And I definitely have a great answer for you. How much money would it be worth to you to have that answer?” Risky, but makes them put a price on their problem.

o “I’d be happy to sit down with you and share my thoughts. My One Quick Question Fee is $250. How about Thursday at 10:30am at the Starbucks on Walnut and Main?” Sales closer.

2. “I’d like to get together to talk about an opportunity.”

Odds are, it’s an opportunity for them to sell you something. Or make money off of you. Which I’m not saying is a crime – salespeople have to eat too.

But your job as the master of your boundaries is to require specific information about this “opportunity” before proceeding to waste two hours of your day sitting in a coffee shop listening to some glossy-eyed housewife pitch you on her amazing system for becoming your own boss and making a six-figure income selling non-FDA approved herbal supplements that may or may not cause rectal bleeding.

Next time this happens to you, try one of these responses:

o “Can you email me a copy of the meeting agenda?” Odds are, they won’t have one.

o “If we got together, what, specifically, would the agenda be for our meeting?” Asks for clarification.

o “Are you affiliated with any direct selling or network marketing organizations?” Weeds out the pyramid people.

o “Could you give me a specific description of this opportunity in twenty words or less so that I can make an informed decision about whether or not to proceed?” Forces them to be more concise.

3. “I’d love to buy you lunch.”

Riiiiight. That way you’d be committed to (at least) twenty minutes of facetime so this bloodsucker can ask every possible question he can think of, listen carefully to your advice, and then take ZERO action on any of the gems you gave him because he didn’t pay.

No. You’re not a lunch whore. “Will work for food” is not part of your business plan (barring extenuating circumstances). Not anymore.

Next time this happens to you, try one of these responses:

o “What is your positive motivation for wanting to meet with me?”Calls their bluff.

o “What specific questions do you have? I bet most of them could be answered via email more efficiently.” Saves time, mixes the medium.

o “Thanks for the invitation! I’d love to get together if my schedule wasn’t so darn full. My lunches for the next few months are either client/prospect meetings or coaching/consulting sessions. And I need to make those my priority during that time slot to optimize my time and reach my goals. If you would like to book a one-on-one session, attached is my fee schedule and availability. Otherwise, I respectfully decline.” Sets boundaries, retains value.

4. “Could we chat on the phone sometime?”

In the words of Scott “Dilbert” Adams, “Nothing good can ever come from answering the phone. It’s always someone asking you to do work. Incoming phone calls rarely involve people volunteering to help you.”

Interesting point. And in many cases, true point. See, it’s harder to set boundaries, restrict time or say no to someone on the phone. Nobody likes rejecting or being rejected in person OR on the phone. Email, on the other hand, is much easier, accessible and efficient. Plus it’s less threatening.

Next time this happens to you, try one of these responses:

o “We (could) talk on the phone, but you’ll have a better chance of reaching me and a MUCH quicker response if you send an email.” More efficient.

o “Actually, I hate the phone. Here’s my email address…” Honest, efficient, mixes the medium.

o “Well, what’s your burning question? I bet I can answer it right now…” Time saver.

5. “I’d like to set up a meeting with you.”

First of all, meetings are useless. They waste time, kill productivity and bore people to tears. And the fact that most businesspeople still have meetings every day is an indication that evolution never happened.

Not to mention, “meetings” are often code for “sales pitches.” Stay away from these vortexes. Their undertow is designed to suck you in. Protect of your time.

Next time this happens to you, try one of these responses:

o “Dang it! I’m all booked up. Email me with your issue and we’ll solve it online together.” Next best option.

o “I would, but meetings are the bane of my existence. And I maintain a personal policy that doesn’t allow meetings. So, what the best way I can help you the most, right now?” Honesty, levity, brevity, integrity.

o “What, specifically, is your burning question? I bet I could answer it quickly without the need for a meeting.” Forces clarification and compactness.

6. “Can I pick your brain?”

For years I allowed people to “pick my brain.” We’d eat, brainstorm, chat, laugh – even sometimes map out their entire ideas. And it was a lot of fun, except for two things. One: I felt like a prostitute. And two: People NEVER, EVER took a modicum of action of any of the ideas because (a) most people don’t execute in general, and (b) people didn’t pay me.

What I’ve discovered is that when people don’t pay me – they don’t hear me. So, I started charging enough money that people would not only listen to me; but also do what I said. And they did. Funny how that works.

Next time this happens to you, try one of these responses:

o “Fantastic! I’d be happy to let you pick my brain. My brain-picking fee is $2000. How about Monday at 2:00pm at Panera on Brentwood?” Value, sales closer.

o “Actually, you can’t PICK my brain – but you can rent my brain. Go to for details.” Smart branding, unexpected, stands by value, changes the conversation.

o “Actually, my brain’s all booked up right now. Fortunately, my website has over 700 pages of articles and probably contains the answers to most of your immediate questions. Good luck!” Redirection with value.

REMEMBER: Your time isn’t valuable – it’s billable.

The good news is:

You can still reject people without being an unapproachable jerk.
You can still maintain the integrity of your boundaries without being a lunch whore.
You can still restrict the access to your brain without being selfish with your knowledge.

As long as you start by asking yourself: “Is this an opportunity, or an opportunity to be used?”

Because if you don’t set healthy boundaries for yourself, people will set them for you.

Will you stand by your value?

For the list called, “66 Questions to Prevent Your Time from Managing YOU,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur

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