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Dealing with Difficult Clients
Being paid for our frustrations
Some clients are a joy to work with.
Some, well… aren’t.
When dealing with… let’s go with a “challenging” client, we have a several strategies we can use that may rise to that challenge.
Point out the cliff. If a client is pushing for something that you think is a bad idea, frame your response to emphasize the negative impact the CLIENT will face. “That will delay the next part of the project by at least 5 weeks when we have to redo it” or “That will add X thousand dollars to the cost.”
Have options available, but don’t give indecisive clients ALL the options at once. “There are several ways to do this, but THIS ONE is the one I recommend.”
Put a premium on your time. “We can agree to this scope change, but it will cost an additional X thousand dollars for the increased hours of work.”
Avoid working with or for people who have integrity problems. If you must work with someone who lies (e.g., “I never agreed to that”) or asks you to do illegal or unethical things (e.g., “Can’t you just say you got that properly inspected?” or “We’ll be paying these workers under the table.”), document every interaction like you might one day be reading those notes aloud in a deposition… because you might be. CYA is time-consuming and anxiety-inducing and life’s too short—your best course of action is to finish up with them and then never work with them again. If appropriate, inform your boss and/or their boss, and potentially report them to the authorities. If you tolerate illegal or unethical behavior, you may find it comes back to bite you.