Dealing with difficult clients when freelancing is one of the more challenging aspects of being a freelancer. It’s not just that they are rude or unreasonable. They also have an uncanny ability to make you feel incompetent and inadequate, which can be very hard to deal with emotionally. If you don’t know how to handle them, it’s easy for your self-esteem and confidence as a freelancer to plummet.
There are many ways to deal with difficult clients. Here are some ways to consider:
For follow-up, it’s important to stay in touch with your client so they know what’s going on. Try to be mindful of the pace at which they are moving. If you can see that they are making progress, let them know. If you find yourself getting anxious or frustrated about the lack of progress from the other side, try to remember that this is a normal part of working with difficult clients.
Be kind and respectful
It’s also important to maintain self-compassion. It can be hard not to take their feedback personally when you are trying your hardest and it doesn’t seem to be good enough. It’s easy to get discouraged and give up in the face of a difficult client, but it doesn’t help anyone if you do. Learn how to avoid taking things personally so that they don’t get under your skin.
Have a thick skin
A thick skin is also very important when dealing with difficult clients. If you try to remain humble while presenting your own ideas and opinions without being overly defensive or aggressive, it will be much easier for both parties to work through difficulties in a productive way. If you can swallow some pride at times, this will go a long way toward making sure both parties feel like they got what they need out of the deal.
Be Mindful of Your Tone
If you are dealing with difficult clients and must communicate through email, it’s important to be mindful of your tone. If there’s anything you wish the client could hear less about, try not to focus on it in your correspondence. It will just get the other party more fired up about something over which they already feel strongly. Instead, keep your emails short and sweet and let them figure out which parts they appreciate, and which ones don’t resonate with them as much.
If you want a quick way to gauge whether your tone is appropriate, think back on some of the feedback that you’ve received from others recently. Did anyone tell you that they appreciated how constructive or helpful your feedback was? If so, it’s likely that you’re doing something right. If not, maybe try to pay more attention to that in the future!
Dealing with the Client’s Anger and Frustration
It can be challenging to know how to deal with the angry and frustrated client. It is important that you can respond in a calm and professional manner. If your first impulse is to lash out, try to control your anger. Instead, remain calm and level-headed. This will allow you to address their frustrations in a more constructive way.
Don’t Take It Personally
When you are working with difficult clients, it can be very tempting to take things that they say personally. They may seem angry and harsh for reasons that have nothing to do with what you delivered or how well you did your job. Don’t get upset by this! Remember that they are just dealing with the stress of their own project, problems in their personal or professional life, deadlines, etc. In most cases, this is not about you at all. This can also help to clarify any feedback so that you know exactly where to focus your attention when making changes or revisions.
If You Are a Freelance Writer
As a freelance writer trying to make a living doing something that many people would consider a creative endeavor, it can be frustrating to have your work criticized and changed. You may feel as though you are being treated like an employee instead of a professional working for a project fee. As great as it would be to only write things that align perfectly with your own vision, the fact is that most jobs will require you to do some editing here and there if they mean anything at all.
A good way to approach this is by thinking about it from the client’s point-of-view: why did they choose you? They chose you because of who you are—because they saw something in your writing that resonated with them on some level. It wasn’t so much about what words were on the page; rather, it was about what the words conveyed. If you can keep that in mind, it will be easier to separate your work from your identity. Be proud of yourself for always doing your best and never compromising on your standards or integrity; but if someone wants something changed, don’t take it personally!
Remember that there is a world of difference between accepting criticism graciously and getting defensive about every little thing—take the constructive feedback with a grain of salt and don’t get too worked up over things out of your control. The bottom line is this: try to focus on continuing to give all parties involved what they need so that everyone can come away feeling like they had the opportunity to do good work and bring their best selves into play.
If You Are a Client
It can be very easy to get caught up in the white noise of your own expectations and forget that people are trying their best to help you. When mistakes are made or things don’t work out as planned, try to remain calm, patient and understanding. Remember that other factors—including personal issues like stress at home or family problems—may contribute to behaviors that seem rude or unprofessional on the part of freelancers who are working hard for a living just like you! Freelancers want to do good work and deliver on time, just like anyone else. Sometimes things don’t work out and it’s nobody’s fault—it’s simply bad luck!
If you find yourself getting frustrated or upset about a situation with a freelancer, try to take a step back from your own expectations and remind yourself that everyone is doing their best with what they have. When things don’t play out the way you want in life, remember that there are always other options: try something different; change directions; re-evaluate what you really want and need. You may get more of what you’re looking for if you try asking for it (instead of waiting around hoping for it) rather than letting frustration cloud your judgment!
Difficult clients are a fact of life when you’re doing freelance work—no matter how experienced you get or how much experience your colleagues have, dealing with difficult people is part of the process. But it doesn’t have to be something that brings you down! By remaining kind, respectful and professional all the time and keeping in mind that everyone does their best with what they’ve got, the most difficult situations can be handled effectively with a minimum amount of stress! Remember: there is always someone out there who needs help from a freelancer as much as or more than you do. Just because things didn’t go well this time around doesn’t mean they won’t work out better next time! Good luck and keep working hard–you’ll be great!