Big-Self Emails vs. Small-Self Emails

The Desert of Arizona
Cold and Clear 27 Degrees

When it comes to working with clients, I’ve experienced just about every emotion on the spectrum. From great appreciation to self-righteous anger.

There are two standards up to which I aspire to live as much as I can in this human form:

  1. The first is DO NOTHING OUT OF FEAR. (Wild animals chasing me are the exception here.)
  2. The second is to ALWAYS ACT AS MY BIG-SELF, to the best of my ability.

As you all know, because I’m public about it every single day, I’ve fallen quite short of this standard many times. It doesn’t change how much I value these items, or what I do to rise back up to them when I’ve fallen short.

So today, let’s talk about email. In particular, let’s talk about Big-Self emails vs. small-self emails.

Let’s say you’re getting a little annoyed that your client is always expecting you to do certain small bits of work (updates to a website for example) without getting charged. This is, of course, YOUR fault, not their fault. But still, until you realize that, it can annoy the hell out of you.

There are two ways to deal with this. The first is as your small-self. The second is as your Big-Self.

Here’s how the small-self might deal with this. That being would send an email like:

SUBJECT: Extra charges…

Dear [NAME],

I’m writing to you today to let you know I can’t continue to work under the current conditions I’m experiencing in regards to your project.

To be frank, you can’t expect me to provide this amount of free work for you. I have other clients to serve and I think it is disrespectful when you ask me to do these “quick” things [your words] to your website for free.

So starting now, I’ll be invoicing you for these charges on a per item basis.



The small-self is a victim who responds in a way where EMOTIONS rule the roost. This does no one any favors. You lose, the client loses, your emotional and mental well-being lose.

Here’s the email the Big-Self might send to deal with this:

SUBJECT: Your request

Dear [NAME],

I got your request to [INSERT WHAT THEY ASKED YOU TO DO.]

In the past, I’ve been happy to do that type of work gratis. And given my workload at that time, that decision did not present any problem at all.

The nature of my business has changed quite a bit recently, and that’s why I’m writing to you. I’ve made a change and now charge a fee for items like this.

The main reason for the change is so that I can continue to provide a consistently high level of service to my clients, even as my business grows.

I wanted to let you know right away so that you could make the right decision for you.

If you would like to give me the authorization to complete this work, the estimated fee would be: [INSERT FEE]

If you’d rather not incur any additional expense, please do let me know.



This one has a very different feeling, no? This email came from The Copy Bank I created. This email, and many other “Big-Self” emails are available for you to use in your business once you’re a member.

The small-self email leads to your client perceiving you as an immature “vendor” he has to manage.

The Big-Self email leads to greater trust, respect and a perception of you as an advisor with clear boundaries and direction.

Most annoyed service providers will send the small-self version. You stick out by not doing that.

Always bring your Big-Self to the party. Everyone wins that way.