How to love that difficult client

When we were celebrating the month of love, I thought it would be good to understand how come you can grow to love certain clients and others not so much.  What is it about that client that makes it so easy to work with?  What is it about that other one that makes you dread the moment you see their email or name on your screen.  For me, it all boils down to learning every step of the way.  It is easy to work with someone if you think alike and clearly understand each other. In my line of business, I sometimes have to guess where “this” is going, as location independence means that you are not always in front of your client to see their facial expression or hear the tone in their voice, and if it is a difficult client, then the stress levels can rise very quickly.  My 5 tips in learning how to handle that difficult client/boss, and in the process maybe learning to love them:

Make sure you are dealing with a difficult client:

It is very easy to dislike a client/boss when you arrive at your first hiccup.  When they confront you, you can feel unappreciative and deflated.  But first, make sure that their reaction is noteworthy and correct.  Be the bigger person and “man up” if you made a mistake.  Learn from the mistake and move on quickly. Do not dwell!  If the situation does not progress into more positive space, you will know it and can move on if needed.  Try to handle the difficult client with great care and thought.

Stay one step ahead of the situation:

I have realized that my more “difficult” clients are the ones that like to micromanage.  Maybe this is they reason they feel overwhelmed and difficult.  To deal with this sort of behavior stay one step ahead of what is expected.

Make sure to have updated reports ready and delivered at short notice. Try not to give the client reason to micromanage and check up on you.  Also, have tasks completed and double checked if correct before updating your client.  To make sure you get everything done on time, find tools to help you get organized (Find sites to help How to get organized quickly and effectively)

Try to stay one step ahead of what the client wants. Sometimes a client will need something from you that you have never done before, and this can seem unreasonable. But try to learn as much as you can.  Upskill yourself with programs, software, and systems to make your work easier. When your client needs something you already have a system in place to share information, work and progress effectively and timely.  Visit app stores for 1000s of quick online programs.

Be aware of their likes and dislikes:

The quickest way to understand your client is to take note of every conversation early on.  Make sure to ask them what times are best to communicate with them.  If you realize they are not very effective with communication, still give them timely updates.  As a business owner, I love to know what is going on in my business.  And even if the client does not acknowledge your updates, emails, calls or any communications, still do it, maybe they are just really bad at communicating.  I am sure they still appreciates the effort.  If the client gets difficult about a certain subject or matter, note that.  Try to avoid such mistakes in the future.  And always remember it is their business, respect their authority.

Be calm and focused:

One of my clients is very artistic and jumps around between topics and tasks.  After every conversation, it felt like a freight train hit me, and yes, I made many mistakes because of that.  I am a left brain, structure person, and she is more of right brain, imaginative person. I had to find a middle way to make sure I understood all the tasks and projects she gave.

The following easy steps helped me cope:

  • Always take notes with every conversation, even if some of the notes seem mundane, it will probably help in the future. If I can, I put my client on speaker phone and record all conversations (always with the client`s consent).  Afterward, I can play it back if needed.
  • Make a “to do list”, and strikethrough when or delete that email from your inbox if the task is finished. These 2 practical ways can help you make sure that tasks are not missed between the hustle and bustle.
  • Find a filing system that works for you. If your paperwork and filing system is out of whack, you will struggle to find something you are looking for. Learn online from Wikihow to do almost anything, even filing (Arrange a filing system)

Do not take it personal:

Every one of us differ.  We can misunderstand each other very quickly and situations can escalate into something that was never meant to be.  Once I got very upset with one of my clients about something silly he mailed me about.  I read that email while I was very tired, and responded with a very stupid, sarcastic reply.  Our relationship turned sour and I struggled for a long time to mend the situation.  One year later and we are back on track.  But all of this could have been avoided if I just left that email un-replied.  Yes, he is still difficult and micromanages everyone, but I realized his company, his monkey, not my circus.  Meaning by this is not to take it personal.  Let the client make the decisions, you can still give your advice, but at the end rest by their decision. Sometimes when someone is not happy with themselves they also react out in a certain way. Remember, it is not about you, it is about them.  Stay calm if you feel offended, and take yourself away from the situation, kindly get back to them later.  You can never fight fire with fire.

If the client seems to be difficult all the time try these techniques to calm the situation:

  • Stay on top of your work and give the client frequent status updates.
  • Never complain to the client about their negativity, rather find a friend outside of work to blow off to.
  • Maybe your client/boss is going through a very tough situation, try to stay calm and collective, and give it time, the season will probably pass.
  • If your client/boss is rude and not in joint with your values, speak up immediately in a soft manner. If they cannot understand your frustrations, it would be better to move onto greener pastures.
  • I have learned over the years a situation seems bad now, but tomorrow it weighs less. Take a breather during the difficult situation, and get back to your client later when they are more relaxed.
  • Maybe ask if you can help with something ells. Someone trying to do something different from what they are appointed to do, always leaves an impression.

Make sure you remain kind to yourself and to one another

At the end, you will still get paid for good work you have done, even if your client/boss likes or dislikes you.  Be the better, more mature, respectful person and change their attitude with kind, collective words.  Stay on top of your game and come up with innovative ways to do your job more effectively.  Let them see why they should love you, because you love them, RIGHT?