My client was consulting with me about how to handle a difficult client. It all ended reasonably satisfactorily. And that got me thinking about difficult clients generally, as well as specifically.
I’ve had plenty of them over the years. I had a lot more when I was an accountant.
Accounting is such a stressful and awful thing for many people that it turns them into monsters when they are not normally so. It can be for a variety of reasons. They are afraid of sums. Or they don’t understand and don’t want to show that or ask, because they feel foolish. Or they blamed me for the amount of tax or VAT they had to pay. No-one likes that even though it denotes they are profitable. Go figure!
And don’t forget to add other weirdnesses in here, including just general misunderstanding and mis-communication. It happens.
I’ve had far fewer difficult clients recently, since I’ve been a coach, but I’ve had them in this business too. When writing to my client I realised I haven’t had any difficult clients for two or three years recently and that got me to thinking about me. What’s changed?
When I was an accountant, for most of those twenty years I had done little or no personal development and I didn’t know about such things as healthy boundaries or how to insert them into a relationship with a client. I learned the hard way that if you give someone an inch, some will take it as the opportunity to become a ruler.
So often at the root of a problem with a difficult client was uncomfortable feelings, theirs or mine or both, and no mechanism for dealing with them.
Now that I am more than twenty five years into learning about myself and how to handle other people, this is much easier. It doesn’t mean that difficult people have completely evaporated in my life, but it does mean that dealing with them becomes much less personally painful for me. And it doesn’t involve confrontation, just conversation.
I wondered about why the last 2-3 years have been different. Why have there been no difficult clients in that time? Why do I feel so peaceful today in thinking about this?
I think one answer might be that some difficult people have either been removed from my life and work, by me, by deliberate choice, and thanks to that general stress levels have dropped. And that leads to a calmer vibe which is a magnet for nicer, easier people.
I honestly think it’s that. I am calmer so my clients are a better vibrational match for that and for me.
What I find fascinating when you wake up and notice that something has gone from your life or simply stopped, as opposed to you having to put a lot of work into making a problem go away, is that it is easy. One of my special sayings is “when it’s right, it’s easy” and I’m all for ease these days.
I’ve forgotten the work I put in to change this. I got sick of complaining to a close friend and colleague about the “gifts” in my life. She wouldn’t let me complain, like my parents didn’t encourage me to be sick. And guess what? If there’s no profit or gain in it, we stop doing it. Eventually.
So, how to get rid of difficult clients in your life?
- Stop playing their games. Opt out. Remove them from your life/Facebook/client list.
- Stop bending over backwards to please them, an impossible task.
- Notice them sooner.
- Choose and implement better boundaries.
- Be more confident of your own worth, and about how you want to treat other people and be treated by them in return.
- Be a vibrational match for the kind of client you want by being that type of person yourself.
And perhaps most important of all, realise you have a choice when it comes to taking on clients. There’s no need to be scarce, afraid you’ll never get another so you’d better grab this one, difficult though you already suspect she will turn out to be. You can easily afford to be abundant about this because there are plenty more fish in the sea, and when you start saying no to what’s wrong for you, what’s right finds its way to you in spades.