Managing Anger as a Freelancer: Here’s What to Do When a Client Puts You in a White Rage

Managing Anger as a Freelancer_ Here’s What to Do When a Client Puts You in a White Rage

You’ve had that feeling.

I’ve had that feeling.

We’ve all had that feeling.

You just. freaking. want. to. kill. that. one. person.

How could they be such an idiot? How dare they criticize your work or refuse to pay you, when they’re the ones who asked for exactly what you delivered? How can they sleep at night?? How can you get a lock of their hair to weave into a curse that shall last for seven generations??!!!

… and so on.

You, my friend, need to learn more about managing anger as a freelancer.

Is Managing Anger as a Freelancer Possible?

Anyone who has ever had a mother or a boyfriend or a child or a relationship of any kind with any type of human being knows the feeling of complete and total, blinding white rage. Especially if you’re like me, and your temper has been on a hair trigger your whole life.

Unfortunately, you and your clients (or prospective clients) are both human. Even if they’re really crazy, you’re probably a little crazy also. The mix – depending on your state of mind, their state of mind, the project, the price and the house in which Saturn currently resides – can be incendiary if you’re not careful.

I have been at the butt of a client’s explosive rage several times. It sucks.

I have exploded myself exactly one time that I recall. Unfortunately, I was a subcontractor at the time, so my contractor gave me a very sharp reprimand. I remember it to this day (so perhaps it was fortunate after all).

The point? People are people. They have feelings.

When you have feelings (of imminent homicide), it’s time to look to these skills for managing your anger.

Help Managing Anger as a Freelancer

The following tips have helped me on numerous occasions to swallow my rage and either work with a client or fire them in a calm and mannerly fashion.

In some cases, my calm has infuriated clients further, and they fire me. That’s okay, because most people know when they’re being insane and won’t publicly shred you when that’s the case. True story. So the best bet is to keep hold of your sanity while they do what they will.

Here are my favorite tips for managing anger as a freelancer:

  1. Walk away: Yes, that thing our moms always told us to do is true. Before you pick up any phones or fire off any emails, leave your computer or your phone and go for a walk. Bake some muffins. Read a good book. Whatever. Take at least half an hour, then reassess. Often you’ll have cooled in this time, and can look at the situation objectively.
  2. Talk with someone else: Your parents, besties, and S.O. are all going to take your side in any situation. However, if they truly love you, they will gently point out when you are being the unreasonable one. If you’re fully in the right, they can steer you in the best direction for dealing with the situation.
  3. Think good thoughts: When I am truly angry with someone, I wish them well. If that sounds ridiculous to you, your loss. I advise you don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. If someone pisses you off, try closing your eyes and thinking pleasant thoughts about them. Wish for them to receive wealth, happiness, serenity and love. You may call this praying if you like, or you can just call it good juju. Either way, once I do this, I’m often able to engage with people as though they haven’t even hurt me.
  4. Be brief: In some cases, you have to say something. If your client’s behavior wasn’t rude or thoughtful, but downright unacceptable, then you must tell them … as briefly as possible. You’re hurt and enraged, so naturally, you will want to write 16 inches of parchment (sorry, I was channeling Hermione) about how much they suck. Instead, write three sentences. That’s it. I challenge you to fail to say what you need to say in more than three sentences. The vast majority of the time, that is all I need to convey my point and either a) move on or b) end the relationship.

These tips are my favorite ones for managing anger as a freelancer. If you have others, please email me and let me know!

Okay, so now you know how not to lose your shit everywhere, but … how do you become a successful freelance writer in the first place? Whether you’re brand new or just trying to up your game, the Free Resource Library will help you jumpstart your writing dreams (without killing anyone). So click the picture below and get the goods!

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