The Inner Bottom Line ® ..where Choices & Values meet

“Don’t Ask Me to Step Outside the Lines”

July 23rd, 2015   •   no comments   

Dear Olive,
I work for photography person who’s very successful at providing images for realtors and staging professionals. I love my work and appreciate working for my boss, who treats me with great respect. I’m writing to you, however, because I’m consistently pressed by clients to do “outside” jobs for them, sometimes with offers of “under the table” bonuses.  Not only do these offers make me uncomfortable, but they put me in an impossible position. I don’t understand why some professionals don’t seem to understand how wrong these requests are or how compromised they make me feel. Am I overreacting to this, or are there things you can help me see that I’m missing? I feel cheapened by the whole experience and at times have considered quitting and putting the stress behind me.

Dear L,
Anytime our values and ethics are compromised or we’re asked to step outside the lines and risk or betray our loyalties and commitments, we usually end up paying too high a price for being put in that kind of untenable position. And that price becomes even higher when we’re put there by the very clients to whom we’ve given our best. That’s hurtful and unacceptable.

olive gallagher

Olive Gallagher

When that happens, on The Inner Bottom Line,, sooner or later, something has to give. It’s not hard to see how experiences like this tend to make us feel diminished and used, the very definition of abuse. So no wonder you’ve been questioning continuing on in this job versus quitting. Anyone with a sense of self and a conscience would feel distressed, and I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with this kind of insulting treatment.

Bravo to you, for not only upholding and honoring your loyalty to your boss as well as your own standards, but also for sharing this experience with me. Allowing me to write about it here encourages others who might have gone through a similar experience to find reassurance that they’re not alone and recognize that there’s also an important choice to be made here on the side of morality and clarity about our core values.

Sadly, this kind of bad behavior happens daily, not just in the real estate arena, but also in our general business and personal lives.  What drives individuals who think it’s okay to ask someone to compromise their principles and make questionable choices that might, over time, put their very livelihood at risk?  To what end? And why? Because they’re more special? Golden? Royalty? Entitled to what?

And there in lies the key to this issue.  Entitlement. Privilege. Special treatment. In a culture that worships and underpays our teachers and overpays our celebrities, although even the definition of celebrity itself has been corrupted in our reality-TV, she’s-done-what world, it’s not hard to connect the dots and realize that everything in this 1%-rich-and-99%-struggling culture is out of whack dominated by  “all-powerful” ones who believe they are entitled to everything and anything while the rest of us do without or pay full price for what we want or need.

It’s also hard for me to wrap my brain around the tragic reality that there are people who wake up every morning propelled by one driving proposition: who can I screw over, cheat, embezzle, embarrass, humiliate, hurt, insult, main, murder or disenfranchise today? Even writing it down seems surreal. And yet I know, in the saddest part of my mind and heart, that this is true.

When you combine that ill-intention with a skewed sense of entitlement in anyone who’s currently raking in the cash, it’s easy to see how folks like that can forget what it’s like to worry about having enough money coming in each month to cover the rent and the bare necessities of life.

Ironically, it often tends to be folks who can well afford to pay full price for anything who are the ones trying to get a cheaper or better deal.

So the next time someone asks you to step outside the lines and make a choice that could compromise you and everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve, say no with a sense of clarity: clarity that this person is being disrespectful, even abusive, to you as well as the company your work for and the standards of your profession; clarity that this person is operating from a skewed sense of self-worth, self-importance and a poor value-base; clarity that you don’t have to compromise your talent, your time or your business in order to retain this person in your practice. Folks like that aren’t interested in relationships, the life-blood of any business. They’re interested in transactions, in taking advantage of anyone to save a dollar, and they’ll move on quickly and look elsewhere if they don’t get the special break they’re after.

Just say adios, buster. Move along. We don’t need folks like you in this part of town.


The Inner Bottom Line syndicated column is found nationally here on and on the website at where you can submit your questions and ethical dilemmas or book consulting appointments and private or group coaching sessions with Olive.

Olive Gallagher is a life coach, ethicist, national speaker and columnist, and a licensed Oregon realtor and can be reached at You can also find her real estate blog at on

Hard cover, Kindle and audio versions of Olive’s book, The Nude Ethicist: A Simple Path to The Good Life™, are available at on

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