Don’t reply

The secret to life as a people-pleasing freelancer

Andrew Macrae
2 min readMay 4, 2020


Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

If you’re a people pleaser like me, you probably have trouble saying no.

You try to keep everyone around you happy, so you wind up saying yes to everything. And you hate conflict, so you avoid it by agreeing to whatever anyone else proposes.

When you’re running a freelance business, this is both a blessing and a curse.

The fact you will bend over backwards to help your clients is your greatest strength. It’s why people keep coming back to you.

You’ve become the person they trust to fix their problems.

But unless you keep firm boundaries, it’s a recipe for burnout and emotional exhaustion.

This simple trick has helped me along the way.

You don’t owe everyone a reply

People pleasers are programmed from birth to think that it’s rude to ignore someone.

You might upset them — and that, for a people pleaser, must be avoided at all costs.

You’ve been socialized to believe that anyone who has taken the time to contact you deserves a polite, well-considered reply.

Unfortunately, this belief is stealing your time and distracting you from what you need to focus on.

Email costs nothing but your most precious resource

I love email. It’s so incredibly useful.

However, while it costs the sender next to nothing to send, every time you open a message and type a reply, you’re spending your most precious resource: your time and attention.

So that school kid who wants to interview you for their assignment, or that job request that’s really not in your wheelhouse, or that random stranger ‘reaching out’ for a favor?

It’s fine to ignore them.

The reality is they’ve emailed 20 other people all at the same time. They’re not invested in a relationship with you.

They don’t care about you.

What they’re really asking is that you give them something for free, after they have spent precisely nothing to figure out if you’re the right person to solve their problem.

You don’t own them a reply.

Let it slide and forget about it.

Same goes for social media

You can use the same principle on social media.

Some random stranger tags you with a provocation?

It’s ok to let it go.

You’re not going to change their mind anyway.

Move on without engaging.

You’ll feel better about yourself, and you’ll get more done.



Andrew Macrae

Freelance writer and editor. Sign up for my newsletter about writing, freelancing and whatever is worrying me