— March 14, 2019
At some point, you’ll have a customer or client that will drive you up a wall. Perhaps they are consistently late with payment, or they have unreasonable demands on your time and skills. My personal favorite is when clients lead you on for weeks at a time, and then disappear, leaving no trace of the deal you’d been working on.
It can make you mad as hell, and sometimes it can be almost impossible to hold your tongue. What I’ve found after four years of working for myself is that it is never a good idea to act when you’re angry with clients. Anger always clouds our judgment, and while it can feel good to vent or to tell someone off, it’s never a good idea for your business.
Maintaining a calm, professional, and polite tone in all your business communications is always going to be better for your business. Here’s how you can back down from getting angry with clients and keep your calm.
Take Some Time
When our tempers run high, we want to act NOW. We feel compelled to respond immediately to the rude email or the condescending tone on the phone call.
Take some time.
The old advice your mom told you about stepping back, maybe writing a letter, and then revisiting it when you’ve calmed down definitely applies to business. Before you attack anyone (even if you’d be giving what you just got) take some time to calm down, identify exactly what made you upset, and figure out a way to bring it up later.
What you want is results that will change future situations, not to just yell at someone. Ask yourself; what is the end result if I just let go right now? Will the person hear me and change, or will they go on the defensive?
Change The Style of Communication
Written communication, in particular, is hard to interpret. What does the placement of the comma mean? Are they mad at me because they used a period instead of an exclamation point?
If you’ve been emailing or texting and you’re getting angry with clients, take it offline. Try calling them so that you can hear their voice (and they can hear yours.) Even better, try and set up some face time, so that you look them in the eyes and have a real discussion. It’s easy to blow something out of proportion when it’s written. Take the initiative to find a more personal way to talk and see what they have to say then.
One of the easiest things to do if you’re feeling frustrated, angry or annoyed is to excuse yourself. And I don’t just mean from that conversation. You can say ‘Upon review, I don’t think this project is a good fit at this time,’ and remove yourself from the entire situation. No one says you have to work with people that make you want to pull your hair out.
Turning down work that will lead to more confrontation (and ultimately, burned bridges) is an act of self-care as well as a surefire way to avoid a screaming match with your client.