Whoever said ‘the customer is always right’ never dealt with the meticulous, unappeasable, make-your-life-a-living-hell client. You know they’re out there. I bet every one of you reading this post encountered one (or 20) in the lifetime of your business.
Maybe the logo you designed had 15 tweaks before the client decided to scrap it and have you start over with a completely different concept. Or there’s the client that insists on getting a picture of her child smiling and, no matter what you do, her two-year-old refuses to cooperate, but it’s all your fault (yes, because it has nothing to do with the pressure the parent is putting on the little tike). Every freelance writer, at one time or another, has experienced the client who ‘knows’ what she wants, but sends your work back three times because she’s changed her mind about the approach (and, by golly, you should have read her mind and done it right the first time!).
Whew. Maybe I’m getting a little worked up here, but it can be very frustrating to deal with such repelling behavior. There comes a time when you have to decide if that client is actually worth all of the trouble and stress. You have to recognize when to walk away.
How Do You Know?
There are some clear red flags that you and a client won’t mesh well. While these warning signs will vary, generally you can expect some difficulty when dealing with the following personalities:
1) Unappeasable Nature
Some people are just impossible to please and will find something wrong with everything. This isn’t just in relation to the products/services you provide; this characteristic tends to saturate every aspect of their lives. If you’re walking on eggshells and doing everything in your power to make things right, but still can’t make any headway, then you may have an impossible perfectionist on your hands.
2) Center of the Universe
This one goes without explaining, but I’ll do it anyway. A handful of clients you’ll encounter will think they’re the center of the universe and that everything revolves around their gravitational pull. Selfish and overbearing, nothing you do will ever be enough for these individuals.
3) Passive Aggression
Back-handed comments about your inability to please a particular client, even when done with a chuckle and comedic portrayal, are still just as insulting as a client who yells. “You do a great job for me, but I certainly don’t want to be the last client you ever have [insert guffaw], so let’s figure this out so you can get it right next time.” These individuals have a lot to say, but aren’t particularly fond of confrontation. Instead, they’ll express displeasure in a more manipulative, and sometimes moderately threatening, between-the-lines sort of way.
Stick it Out or Walk Away?
While sticking it out does pose a problem for maintaining your sanity, these clients often develop a loyalty to your business, despite their blatant indignation. Surprising, isn’t it? Sometimes this is because you’re the only one that will put up with them, other times it’s because they enjoy having so much power, and most of the time there is absolutely no logical explanation.
The point is, you need to determine if the stress these types of clients put you under is worth enduring for what you charge. I often find that it’s not, but you might be more patient and able to endure much more torment than I am.
Whatever you decide in the end, there is no way of knowing what a client will turn out to be like when he contacts you initially. In that case, when dealing in contracts, an escape clause is an absolute must. Know your personal and professional limitations, and always provide yourself with a way out. Do your best to sever the business relationship with grace and proficiency, but it’s probably in everyone’s best interest if you ‘man-up’ and walk away.
Vent Share Your Thoughts
Do you have an impossible client horror story? Did you come up with an inventive way for cutting ties? Share below and feel that sense of release we all enjoy when expressing our own disdain for life’s crummy moments with someone who totally understands.
(Originally posted on Ink’d Content)