Three Strategies for Dealing with Difficult Clients

We’ve all got difficult people in our lives. Most of them are family members, partners and children. Or if you are really lucky, a dog that pees when he’s happy, and craps when he’s nervous. But I digress.

Dealing with challenging people in your social life is one thing, but when it comes to clients, it’s a whole different bag of Cheetos. (Forgive me … I’m working through lunch.)

Anyway. If you’re having trouble finding clients, dealing with clients, sticking with difficult clients or just plain not heading out and murdering all your clients, here are just a few tips I’ve learned over the years – I mean, what?

No. I have never had a difficult client. No! All mine are lovely. I mean this is what I have learned from other people.

Yes. Others. So let’s begin.


No, don’t roll your eyes. See you’re already not listening. When I was in school, I had a teacher that always use to say “Listen. Don’t just wait for your turn to talk.” She was right. A majority of the problems you will have with difficult clients will be surrounding miscommunication. That’s because we think we know what they’re going to say and are just waiting for our turn to talk.

Instead, go into your next client meeting with the idea that you are there to gather information. Then try to come up with a solution. If you can’t come up with an answer to solve the problem in that moment, just say “I need to really think about what you’ve said, so I will get back to you by the end of the day.” Always tell your client when you will get back to them whether it’s within the hour, end of day, next week, or once you win the lottery and can tell them to shove it.

Be Unavailable

I know this sounds counterintuitive, but it’s incredibly important. As a copywriter, or really a freelancer of any kind, you need to set boundaries with your clients. This is especially true with your needy/chatty and overall difficult clients.

You have to teach them what is acceptable. If you call them or respond to their emails at all hours of the day or night, they will assume that’s okay. Let them know up front that you return emails and make phone calls between such and such hours and will get back to them at that time. I know you want to be as helpful and responsive as possible, but you also have a life, and they need to respect that.

Be Honest

When working with difficult clients we are often too afraid of losing their business to say anything we feel they may not want to hear, but clear, truthful communication with your clients is key. Often times they don’t even know there’s a problem so they can’t be a part of the solution. Be honest if something’s not working.

For example, if you have difficult clients who never seem satisfied with your work try saying, “I feel like you haven’t been as happy with my work lately. Is there something I can do to change that?” Or, if they’re impossible to get a hold of say, “I’ve noticed it takes you a long time to respond to my emails. Is texting or phone calls better for you?” Asking a question is always a good way to open the lines of communication with a client, especially a challenging one.

As always, I hope this helps … and if you have any dog training tips, I’m all ears!

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