An Open Letter to the Friends and Families of Proposal Professionals

As proposal professionals, most of us well understand the idiosyncrasies of the profession. We have become accustomed to the extreme ebbs and flows of the workload, the heightened stress levels leading up to final submission, and the internal panic of changes within the three days leading up to your scheduled printing.

As we all know, this fluctuation in workload and stress level can negatively affect our personal relationships. If your personal lives are anything like mine, our partners, friends, and families aren’t always the most understanding when we have to work on vacations, change our plans because of a work fire-drill, or even wake up extra early on a weekend to make the schedule for the day work. We often receive resistance, side commentary about how much it sucks that we have to work, and other pushback from our loved ones. This can be polarizing, especially when stress levels are at their highest. So I wanted to send out this reminder for our loved ones, especially when our stress levels are at their highest.

Dear Proposal Professional Family and Friends,

As proposal season starts to approach its peak, I wanted to send out a few reminders about our work situation and how we feel when stress levels get high.

1. We really would rather be spending time with you. Trust us, we get it. It sucks that we have to do work while on vacation. Or while friends are in town. Or early in the morning before a fun outing. We would much rather be spending all of our time with you and enjoying the things that we may be missing out on. But we have deadlines and a lot of pieces of the pie that we don’t have any control over. People catch things in the final hour. It’s also not uncommon for leadership to put off reviews and want to make last minute changes. We do our best to prevent these things from happening, but we have to get the job done regardless. We are sorry. Please don’t make us feel worse about the situation.

2. Please cut us some slack. When we overreact to a comment you view as harmless, please know that we don’t mean to take our stress out on you. Many of us work very hard to keep everything together and maintain composure for our teams, which can be exhausting. We are doing our best to keep ourselves together both at work and at home—but we are human. We are sorry. Please understand that we trying our best.

3. Your support means everything to us. Because we are dealing with so much stress at work, your support means the world to us. We can’t put into words how much it means when you make small efforts to relieve some of the stress for us. Taking things off our plate like errands and household chores, bringing dinner when we are stuck at work burning the midnight oil, stopping in with little treats (or sneaking them into our bags so we find them while we are at work). We really do appreciate these efforts, and trust us, they do not go unnoticed. If we don’t say it enough while stress levels are high, thank you for all the things that you do to help keep us sane.

The life of a proposal professional can be a tough one—and I can image it can be difficult to have us in your lives. As with most situations where miscommunication occurs, we can probably all be better about communicating and making sure everyone is on the same page. I know this is difficult when stress levels are escalated. Please keep in mind that we are doing our best, and we will try to remember that you are doing the same. Try to remember that we really do feel bad enough already about missing out on time with you. Try to cut us a little slack if you can. And remember that your support really does mean the world to us.


Your Beloved Proposal Professional

Final Words
I’m not sure if you are as guilty of this as I am, but I tend to be a much better communicator at work than I am at home. Do you have successful communication strategies for these common issues above—or are you still honing those skills, like I am? I’m curious to hear how you manage and cope!

Written by Ashley Kayes, CP APMP
Senior Proposal Consultant, AOC Key Solutions, Inc. (KSI)


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