Tactics to Positively Overcome the Difficult Client
Irrespective of what industry you are in, there is always that odd difficult client that as a result of various factors can leave you feeling frustrated, angry, unmotivated and possibly even full of self-doubt. For some of us, the reaction to a difficult situation can be defensive for others it can be offensive which can have either positive of negative outcomes regardless.
Stepping out of your comfort zone to establish smart habits
The fact remains that there will always be clients that are a little harder to please than others, so the question at hand is, how do you handle those situations in a way that will have a positive outcome for both you and the client? Well, while in my previous role, I had done some research on the topic and I came across an article by Barbara Markway (Ph.D.) who has some excellent insight into handling difficult clients, which I will delve into a little further, but one of the factors she mentions amongst others is going about things in a way that may seem unnatural to you as first. What does this mean? Well simply put, we all have our ways of doing things, and sometimes it works other times it doesn’t but if your finding your not getting the outcome you want from a difficult situation – perhaps its time to step outside your comfort zone, try a new approach and create smart habits.
Some Tactics to be Used with the Client
Out of the many tips given in Barbara’s article, the following tactics on how to handle a difficult client stood out to me:
- Listen & Stay Calm. Listening is the number one step in dealing with “unreasonable” people. Everyone wants to feel heard, and although staying calm can be extremely difficult in an emotionally charged situation, real progress can’t take place until the other person feels acknowledged. While you’re listening, really focus on what the other person is saying, not what you want to say next. I have often said to people in the past, “I know your hearing me, but are you listening to me? There is a difference”. Taking the time to really listening to what someone else is saying, can give you a fresh perspective and clarity on a situation at hand.
- Reflect respect and dignity toward the other person. You don’t know what the other person is going through. Chances are, if a person is acting unreasonable, they are likely feeling some sort of emotional or mental strain for whichever reason and showing contempt will not help productively resolve the situation.
- Saying, “I understand,” usually makes things worse. Instead, say, “Tell me more so I can understand better.” This for me was an interesting point, because I personally have often used the term “I understand” countless times with clients and looking back it wasn’t always well received, looking at this approach has given me a new perspective on how a client would possible react to the situation differently.
- Saying, “I’m sorry,” or, “I’m going to try to fix this,” while establishing boundaries can go a long way toward defusing many situations. This tip can be quite difficult to follow when you feel your not the one in the wrong and are feeling defensive. Sometimes by being humble in the situation and saying the words “I’m sorry” or “I’m going to fix this” can completely diffuse a situation, and in turn can give you the opportunity to establish the hidden need. The client could end up disclosing what they are really trying to gain or avoid within the project/ task and positive outcome can take place for both parties. Having said that, you will also need to assess the situation, while some of the above tips have encouraged listening and letting the angry person vent, you also have the right to be assertive and say, “Please don’t talk to me like that.” if the situation is gets out of hand.
Some Tactics to be Used with Yourself
Handling a difficult client with some of the tactics, may be draining for you which would defeat the purpose of positively overcoming difficult clients, that’s what there are also a few things you should do:
- Debrief. After the situation is over, talk to someone about what happened, take 5 minutes to make yourself a cup of tea or coffee and just allow yourself to process the situation.
- Discharge your own stress. You had to put your natural reactions on hold for a while. Now is the time to discharge some of that pent-up adrenaline. Go for a run. Take your dog for a walk. Don’t let the emotions stay stuck in your body.
- Give yourself credit for getting through an uncomfortable situation. It takes a lot of energy not to act like a jerk when someone else is behaving badly. Don’t skip this step!
Positive Outlook, Positive Outcome
Remember these tactics are simply guidelines to help you along the way. How you implement these tactics is up to you, and maybe they won’t give you a positive outcome every time, but its all about trying and keeping at it until you establish smart habits that work for you. If you do not have the time or cannot see yourself dealing with difficult clients that’s ok, perhaps consider getting a VA to deal with your Client Relationship Management and can implement strategies for you! I have seen how these tactics have worked for me, and to this day some of the best connections and relationships that I have established in my career have been as a result of a rocky start with some pretty difficult clients. The key to all of this however is to always have a positive outlook, and having said this I will end with a quote by Lailah Akita “Our reaction to any situation will determine the outcome”
Using New Year’s Resolutions to embrace 2019 and become the best you!
Can you believe 2019 if finally here? It’s been a long and exciting 2018, but as all good things, this too has come to an end. It’s time to reflect on things that helped shape us and brought us were we are today but it’s also time for new things so you can make 2019 just as memorable, and more importantly a huge success.
I don’t have a long list of new year’s resolutions. I don’t trust myself to keep with them and hate disappointment. So three things tops my list this year and hopefully I’ll be able to keep up.
My 2019 strategy
In 2019 I will be working harder towards my health. My health journey started in August 2018, took a plunge in December and I’m picking it up again in Jan. I’m not only talking about physical health but mental health as well. Healthy body, healthy mind. Looking after your mental health is vital as it affects every aspect of your life, social, family and career. I plan on working on my focus and my planning abilities. I’m not quite sure how to go about it yet but I guess that’s part of the journey. I’ve already started getting some tools together like my shiny new 2019 diary, I’ve used the Headspace app before for meditation and realized that I don’t even have 5 minutes of peace and quite in my house… I’ll try and pick that up again. I’m also reading Getting Things Done by David Allan. I’ve only heard great things about him and this book so hopefully I’ll be able to implement his strategies into my own work-life balance.
The second resolution is to be a better human being. Upskilling yourself is so easy, all you need is the will power and the drive (the time as well but if you have enough drive, you will make the time). I’ve planned out 12 courses I want to take this year to help me broaden my skillset. They range from digital marketing to nutrition (bonus because it helps with resolution number one). I’ve had the same resolution last year and only managed to complete one. It feels as though I stumbled into and through 2018 but with some help I’m sure I’ll be able to master the goal this year.
Finally, yet importantly, the easiest resolution… To make a bucket list and start ticking of some stuff I’ve always wanted to do but have never gotten to. The idea is to get out in the world and make yourself heard. I’m sure that finally visiting that networking event or contacting that client will boost my career in the right direction.
The New Year is usually a time to reflect but also a time for new things, a fresh start, a blank slate. Why not take it with both hands and embrace this gift you get to open each year and become the best you that you can possibly be!
What is a Virtual Assistant
According to the balance small business website, a virtual assistant (VA) is a person who provides support services to other businesses from a remote location. The term originated in the 1990s as the ability to work virtually due to technology improvements, such as high-speed Internet, document sharing, and other advancements, made working remotely a reality.
Virtual assistants are especially in demand by entrepreneurs and online businesses that need help but don’t want to bring on staff in their location. However, many small and mid-size businesses use virtual support, especially for specific tasks such as social media management.
Earlier in 2018, I decided to kick the corporate bucket and venture on a solo career path. I just didn’t know what I was going to do though. It wasn’t the first time I’d tried my hand at entrepreneurship either. No, I’m a sucker for pursuing my goals, hopes and dreams. Have I failed and bumped my head? You better believe I have. Has my confidence wavered? Oh yes, many times. It still does. I have days when I sit back and question my choice, but usually, it takes a drive during peak hour traffic to reaffirm my belief in what I’m doing.
I knew I had to change what I was doing. There were a few personal reasons for my decision but the main driving force for me is the fact that misogyny is still rife in the workplace. This is a global phenomenon and a topic not discussed openly for fear of reprisal.
Working hard, long hours has always been a trait I’m proud of, but, as I approach my 50’s, I don’t gel with the rules. Not that I really embraced these to begin with. Boundaries create security, this is psychology 101 – but micromanagement and a draconian, authoritarian management style is on another level. One I don’t tolerate. Perhaps it’s just my personality, but I have a visceral dislike toward those who deploy this management style. Nor do I take kindly to whipper snapper millennials boasting their degrees and exploiting others, especially mature women in the workplace. Don’t get me wrong, I respect the fact that people work hard to attain their degrees. Point is, it does not entitle belligerence.
I am pleased to observe on many company websites, particularly the UK based companies that the gender pay gap is being addressed. These modern companies are also addressing their menopause policy for their mature female employees. This is liberating and makes us ‘oldies’ feel appreciated and still worthwhile in the office and not maligned for being female.
As I was planning my exit strategy, I researched online work opportunities. I wasn’t overly enthused at the ‘genuine’ options I found. Seems there’s many a scam artist out there preying on desperate and vulnerable job seekers. Scrolling through Google I saw the term virtual assistant. Intrigued, I read on. Yes! This was for me and rest as the saying goes, is history.
Another important factor that influenced my decision is my teenage son. It’s reassuring for mums of small children to be at home. Unfortunately, there’s not too many half day positions available and mums are forced to either take a pay cut, opt to work from home or find full time employment and utilise the primary school after-care facility. The assumption is high school kids have it all figured out and cope on their own in the afternoons. This is not the situation and left to their own devices, teens tend to not be as studious as we’d like them to be. Boys tend to take advantage of this fact… To this I can attest.
Where to from here
Setting up shop is not easy, and it’s become a competitive work arena out there. If starting and running a business is such a simple feat, everyone would be an entrepreneur. When I started out, I floundered for a while and was startled at my lack of up to date techie experience. This from someone who completed their A+, advanced networking and MCSE in the early 90’s. A lot has changed, and it can be daunting!
I wasn’t and am not deterred to work for myself and on my own. As a Virtual Assistant, you cannot offer everything skills wise and there will always be other VA’s who offer more than you do and are better at a task than you are. It’s about streamlining your skills and finding your niche. If you don’t know something, say so. But, turn your not knowing into a positive and learn how to do the task. There are many online resources to be researched and honing your skills is do-able, without breaking the proverbial bank.
Be honest and upfront with your client and with yourself. It’s no use struggling to fulfill a task or commitment you know full well won’t be done correctly. The concept of working online requires open communication channels and engaging regularly with your client or clients. Learn to manage your time. When you’re on the clock and responsible for task management and key deliverables, you quickly realize how valuable time is. There’s no chatting with colleagues round the coffee station or checking your social media profiles. Accountability is tantamount.
Being on the cutting edge of technology and offering a bespoke service will ensure the global Virtual Assistant market succeeds. This is an exciting career path and the industry is set to grow, exponentially so.
Look for these tell tale signs of burnout
Burnout is a term that gets tossed around often in the workplace, but it’s more than simply feeling tired or overworked. It’s a continual sense of pessimism about your present and future that can lead to a decline in your work performance.
Often triggered by extreme pressure, burnout is far from simply a buzz word for stress. Burnout is associated with symptoms such as exhaustion, depression, and the inability to cope with simple tasks.
Even the most driven people are susceptible to this sense of negative exhaustion. Because when you don’t take the time for self-care and evaluating your priorities, burnout is almost inevitable.
Burnout is a state of overwhelming exhaustion, mental, emotional and physical. It can be caused by work pressures, lifestyle factors, even certain personality traits. It’s more than everyday stress. Burnout is characterized by overpowering, unrelenting stress over a long period. The mind and body are so beaten down that simple daily functioning seems like an overwhelming burden.
Being burned out has a tremendous impact on both your physical health and mental well-being. As the extreme stress continues, the result is often life altering illness, depression, and a sense of extreme failure. Essentially, there is nothing left to give and the body starts shutting down.
One of the main reasons why this takes place is because the symptoms all consist of things that every one of us experiences, at some time or another. As a result, telling the difference between ordinary fatigue or illness and the chronic depletion that heralds a serious problem is tricky.
Some common signs of burnout might include:
- Having trouble concentrating or making decisions at work
- Experiencing relationship problems at home
- Talking negatively about your work performance
- Avoiding or complaining about interactions with coworkers
- Experiencing chronic stress and potential health issues
- A pervasive sense of failure and self-doubt
- Feeling helpless, incompetent and defeated
- Loss of motivation and interest in your job, hobbies or family
- A very negative, irritable and impatient attitude
- Lack of a sense of satisfaction and any feelings of accomplishment
- Feeling detachment and distant from the rest of the world
- Experiencing a vicious cycle of overwhelm while the world is crashing around you
- Frequent distraction and an inability to focus or be engaged in a conversation.
- A feeling of pushing yourself harder with no results
- A pattern of memory loss, forgetting where you put things or what you are doing
- Extreme exhaustion and lack of energy, feeling completely drained
- Loss of appetite, interest in intimacy or insomnia
- An increase in sickness or a general feeling of unexplained illness
- Frequent headaches, back and neck pain, muscle and joint aches
It’s easier to cure any condition if you catch it early, and that includes burnout. So don’t shrug off early warning signs just because they seem mild. If they’re ignored, far bigger problems could be lurking down the road.
Learning how to manage stress is critical when you’re on the path to burnout. It is much easier to avoid burnout, than to recover from it.
Celebrating Everyday Heroes as a Daily Inspiration
“Celebrating the Women in your Life in Honour of Women’s Month” WOW, what a topic.
There are many Women in my life both alive and the dearly departed that have made a huge impact on my life and impact of the direction that my life has taken.
The woman who made the most impact in my life
Let’s begin with the most amazing Women that has made the biggest impact, my Mom.
What a truly remarkable, inspirational and caring person she was. My Mom brought me into this world and taught me the value of life, love, happiness and most importantly time. My Mom always used to say, “make the most of every second in your life, every second that has been wasted on the trivial matters in life and things that don’t matter is a second you will never get back”.
My Mom taught me the value of work ethic, the value of working hard in life for what you want. Nothing gained in life is for free. What you put in, is what you get out! Remember what your mother taught you, it came from the most sacred place of love that exisits.
The reason I get up in the morning
Then I have my daughter and granddaughter. What a combination these two angels are. These two angels are SO special to me. The tinkle in my eye, the reason I get up in the morning and the reason that I live life to the full.
The biggest blessing one could ever hope for is too be able to bring a child into this world. Melissa, my daughter, is such a wonderful young lady, she has brought SO much joy and happiness into my life. She works hard, focuses on the important things in life.
I truly see so much of my Mom in her. Melissa is such an inspiration to me. I am SO very proud to be able to call her my daughter.
Then we have little Mia, Mia has taught me the biggest lesson of all, LOVE, LOVE and more LOVE. Just when you thought you couldn’t love someone any more than you do, along comes a grandchild. Have you noticed the admiration they have in their eyes when they look at you and everybody around you? So much love.
How does a child spell L O V E ……. They spell it T I M E! My little Princess, your Nanny is SO lucky to have you in her life. I am constantly amazed by your beauty and the love that you portray for the little things in life.
If I could turn back the clock to when my kids were much younger, there are so many things that I would do differently. First and most important of all, I would spend more quality time with my kids. Embarking on adventures together and loving life. When my kids where younger I found that I spent far too much time working and I kept telling myself that I was doing this FOR them.
The Entrepreneur that inspires me the most
The next lady that has come in too my life, teaches and challenges me on a daily basis. I mention her now, but not last as in order of importance, Karen Wessels. Karen has taught me the value of doing what you love and doing it with all your heart. Such an inspirational lady. Karen has brought back into my life the importance of why I do what I do and to love, grow and feel challenged by what we do in our lives. Walking alongside her is such an honour.
In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of the very special Women who have made an impact in my life. I love you all SO much!!
I stick by the philosophy in life, “Do What You LOVE, in order to LOVE What You Do!” Take time to smell the roses for want of a phrase.
You only have ONE life, LIVE IT!
VA Connect has a team of Virtual Assistants just waiting to be of service to you, to lighten your load! To FREE up some of your time!