How to Deal with Difficult Clients

How to Deal with Difficult Clients

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Today we’re talking about difficult clients.

We’ve all had them, we will continue to have them, but the key is knowing how to deal with it and be able to set boundaries up front so that we can avoid the heartache along the way.

I got a question from Shauna. She says, “I have six clients that, combined, give me 27 social accounts to look after,” holy smokes! “however, lately I’ve been struggling with some of the clients as some are becoming hard to work for, not respecting that I, too, run a business, almost telling me how to do my work. This is something that’s making me consider letting some clients go, as it’s taking the enjoyment out of the work for me. Have you ever been in this situation before, or do you have any advice?”

Yes, I do.

I actually had a friend of mine come to me with a very similar concern recently, and it always seems easier to give advice to a friend than it is for ourselves, so I’m going to tell you her story and I’m going to let you formulate your own idea, and I’ll tell you what I suggested to her at the end.

So my friend started working for this client about a year ago, when she was a brand-new social media manager, and she took on their Facebook and Instagram for $750 a month. Over time, the scope creep began. “Could you just do this? Here’s one small more request. Here’s another little thing that we’re asking you to do. Do you mind? Thanks.” So all of these small requests grew so much that now they want her managing Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, email marketing, twelve emails per month, Facebook ads for them, and also their partner company in another location. On top of that, she also has a weekly call with their team going over marketing strategy every week, so she’s giving up an hour of her time every week. Every time she gets an email or request, she spends so much time having to do this and it feels, ugh. She signed on at a lower price when she was entry-level and they kept asking more and more that the work and the compensation do not balance out anymore.

If you’re like me, you chose to start a business because you want freedom, flexibility, and more time for your family. So where along the line did we lose ourselves to our clients and give up our boundaries? I don’t want you to work for clients who bring you down. Any moment that you spend working in that “ugh” feeling is robbing you of inspiration and momentum. It’s robbing you of the energy to go create something bigger for yourself or for a client that you actually love.

So if you have a client that isn’t respecting your time or boundaries, I would suggest having a conversation to see if you can set things straight. If not, I have totally fired clients in the past, and it has been such a relief. I know the stress that you could be giving up income by doing that, but consider what your stress and what that time is worth to you.

If you let go of that client that’s causing you heartache, causing you stress and frustration, think of where that time could be going instead, doing something that you enjoy, working for a client that you love or building something new for yourself.

It’s easier to set boundaries from the beginning, and some people are just plain difficult and there’s not much you can do to change them, and it’s not your responsibility to change them. You will attract better clients and maybe even higher-paying clients when you set boundaries and expectations and stand up for what you’re worth. And when you remove anything negative from your life, I believe that it only opens up space to be filled so that you’re making room for bigger and better things by letting that negative client go.

So to recap, if you have a difficult client, of course, communication is key. If there’s anything that you can do to set things straight, to set your boundaries, to set expectations on both sides, sometimes it’s just a matter of managing expectations, that maybe you need something from them and they need something from you, you just need to come together and communicate about that. However, if the client is still being difficult, if you’re not able to see eye-to-eye, it might not be you, it may be them. I always suggest doing whatever you can to repair the communication and the relationship, but sometimes it’s just easier to walk away, and there’s nothing wrong with sending an email saying, “I wish you good luck. This isn’t a right fit.” Maybe, “Here’s a referral or someone else that you can go to.” And go along on your merry way and know that you’ve just created space for you to have something better in your life.

I hope that helps, and if you have a question that you want me to answer in a future video, you submit your question here.

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