Working Girl How-To: How to Deal with Difficult Clients

That Working Girl If you work in advertising, marketing, PR or really any field where you have to work with clients like I do (which is most of you), you’ve probably had some challenging clients before. When I say “challenging,” I mean unrealistic, demanding, rude, disrespectful (dare I say, crazy?!) - you get the idea. As long as you’re in business, you’ll always have difficult clients to manage, so here are some quick tips on how to better deal with them.

Set realistic expectations. Often one of the biggest reasons a client is unsatisfied with your work is because their expectations are too high, setting you up for inevitable failure. It’s key to any client relationship to set their expectations realistically so you set yourself up for a higher chance to please them. When it comes to any project kick-off, be sure to provide an overview of what you plan on delivering and why, and tell your client by when. My motto? Under promise and over deliver.

Transparency is key. Now, I don’t mean that you should provide your client with TMI (too much information). If you do so, you’ll often lead to more questions from your client that you may or may not have answers to (read: opening a can of worms). However, I do recommend being transparent with your client in the sense of keeping them posted on project status updates, any issues you run into that delay a project, or other things that may directly impact your client. You want your client to know you’re on their side, and being transparent and open with them will help build their trust for you. Nothing is worse than a client that thinks you’re hiding something!

And remember, always be nice. You’ve probably heard the old saying, “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.” Well, it’s true. Being rude back to a client who has been rude to you won’t get you anywhere. When it comes to that disrespectful client of yours, do your best to ignore your inner frustrations (and sometimes those overwhelming emotions), and be nice. It’s hard for someone to continue being rude to a person who is always nice to them, right? Kill ‘em with kindness, sister.

Next time you’re dealing with a finicky client, just remember these three simple things - set their expectations properly, be transparent with them, and be nice. If you do that consistently, it’s hard to believe that you won’t wear them down. I’ve personally been able to win over even the worst of clients with these! Believe me, it’s not impossible.

If you’ve had a challenging client, what helped your relationship with them? Leave your thoughts in a comment below, or tweet us at @HeyWorkingGirl!

Emily Fearnley