Are You a Good Sport Freelancer?

good-sportIf you work online (and most freelancers do), how do you handle it when you encounter someone who doesn’t agree with you (or even like you)?

I grew up attending my brother’s little league games, and now I have the opportunity to watch my own children participate in sport activities. The one thing that nearly every coach stressed was good sportsmanship–which included the ability to get along with others on the team as well as the ability to handle losing gracefully.

Not only is good sportsmanship vital to good teamwork, it’s also a crucial attitude for the successful freelancer to have.

In this post, I’ll share some of those early lessons that I learned about good sportsmanship. We’ll look at how good sportsmanship can help your freelancing business. We’ll also list several ways for you to find and keep a more sportsmanlike freelancing attitude.

Why Good Sports Are More Professional

If you compare the two, you will note many similarities between good sportsmanship and professionalism:

  • Good sports find a way to get along with their teammates; professional freelancers find a way to get along with their clients and peers
  • Good sports don’t throw a tantrum when they lose a game; professional freelancers don’t throw a tantrum when they lose a project
  • Good sports don’t call their opponents names; professional freelancers don’t call their competition names
  • Good sports can be counted on to do their part; professional freelancers are reliable
  • Good sports have a positive attitude; professional freelancers are optimistic
  • Good sports play fair; professional freelancers are honest and above-board

To sum it up, good sportsmanship and professionalism are both about attitude.

Either you have a good one, or you don’t. But, the good news is that if you don’t have a good sport attitude, you can get it.

How to Find Your Good Sportsmanship

If you’re reading this and you recognize that you’ve been behaving in an unsportsmanlike, unprofessional manner–don’t lose heart. You can still change your ways.

Here are five ways to become a better sport:

  1. Choose to overlook the little things that would ordinarily annoy you. Okay, so the client completely changed your design and now the concept makes no sense. That’s bad–but, let’s face it. Worse things could happen. Be gracious and respectful anyway.
  2. Make a note of and celebrate the good things that happen. Keep a list of positive things and refer to it whenever you are tempted to fall into your old, negative ways. Spread that positive attitude every time you get a chance.
  3. Build close relationships with positive people who you respect. Some people lift you up and others tear you down. Make a point to spend as much time as possible with the people who encourage you.
  4. Always conduct your business with integrity. Being above-the-board and honest in all of your freelance business transactions will give your clients and colleagues a real reason to be positive and upbeat about you.
  5. Develop a thicker skin. Eventually, somewhere along the line, you’re going to run into somebody who just plain doesn’t like you.

Finding your good sportsmanship is important. Not only will being a good sport help you to be more professional, bad sports aren’t really as popular or successful as they might seem.

Bad Sports Are Not as Popular as They May Seem

Sometimes it seems that the online world is one that is filled with negativity.

Headlines screech accusations at the readers. Nearly every popular blog has one or two readers who seem to follow it solely so that they can leave a disparaging remark. Even many success “gurus” seem to depend on shock and negativity to build their audience.

If you’re a freelancer who is struggling to get ahead, it can be tempting to jump on the bad attitudes bandwagon. My advice? Don’t do it.

Don’t publicly whine about your minor disagreements with clients. Don’t put down other freelancers on message boards or in social media.

While negativity may be somewhat entertaining in the short term, in the long run, most businesses are looking for freelancers who live and act professionally.

Think about it this way. If you had a choice about who you could work with would you choose someone who was known for complaining or would you choose someone who was known for being respectful and who is easy to get along with? (I know who I would choose.)

What Do You Think?

Have you ever had to work with a bad sport? Would you do it again?
Leave your answers in the comments.

Image by design-dog