Dealing with other people is a fundamental part of the job of any professional. What can we do when those relationships get complicated?
The myth of the completely independent professional, who limits himself to doing his work alone and in his own way and is not accountable to anyone, is still that: a simple myth.
At a minimum, we need clients. Our income depends on our dealings with them. And the truth is that many times that deal is complicated .
It is a knot that, as professionals, we must learn to untie.
Taking as a starting point an article from FreelanceFolder, we have collected a few tips that will help you better manage these situations.
First step: detect what is failing
The first step is to detect where our relationship with the customer is failing.
There are at least 4 typical reasons why we consider a client to be complicated:
- Communication problems
Sometimes the problems are in the communication channel and in the way we have both parties to use it. There are people who prefer to talk on the phone; Others, on the other hand, are in favor of putting it in writing, so that the requests are recorded; many other people are only able to explain well what they think in a face-to-face conversation …
If we do not find the appropriate communication channel and the precise frequency, it will be difficult for us to understand each other with the client.
The challenge is to adjust our work to the client’s needs without negatively affecting our performance. An example: there are clients who will want to deal with everything by phone every day, at any time. But if we accept this situation, we will be giving up a large amount of effective time for work. In addition, it is difficult to concentrate when phone calls interrupt us at all times.
Therefore, a certain balance must be sought: a system that satisfies the customer and allows us to maintain an optimal work rate.
- We do not share the same information
Does the client know the same as we do about the matter we are dealing with? The most common is that we both have different information. And that often leads to problems and misunderstandings. The client may think that our price is too high because he does not really know what our work consists of. And vice versa, we may think that the client is abusing us when he asks us for a discount, because we are unaware that this is a behavior that he considers “essential” in his relationship with suppliers.
It is not necessary for the client to “learn” everything we know about our area of activity. That is impossible, and it would be very little functional. Most of these problems can be solved simply with a more fluid communication: it is enough that the client knows well what you offer, what the project consists of and what is the difference between your work and that of other professionals. That information will allow him to assess you correctly.
- Different vision and mental schemes
This is one of the fundamental rules: we cannot assume that the rest of the world sees things the same as we do. We have different experiences, visions and mental schemes, and that makes us interpret the world differently.
It is very important that we take this into account. Otherwise, it will be very difficult for us to understand the point of view of our customers, who are the ones who, after all, pay for the service. Once we know how others think, we can reach out to them.
A very useful exercise is to try to see ourselves “from the outside”, to detect what are the beliefs, assumptions and behaviors that we have internalized without realizing it, and that can distance us from others, especially from clients and end users of our services.
- Character traits and details in the deal
There are clients that we like. And there are clients that we don’t like so well. But that does not imply that we cannot maintain a productive relationship for both parties.
Problems arise, many times, due to an apparent “incompatibility of characters”: the client approaches the problems in a way that seems wrong to us, and does and says things that we dislike, and vice versa.
Sometimes, to overcome this situation, it is enough to remember that the fundamental bond with our client is a work-related one. If we get along, so much the better. But we don’t have to become friends. So there is no point in generating too many expectations, or being too demanding in personal treatment. It is enough that there is respect (which is not little).
As we have seen, it is essential to detect what is wrong in order to remedy it.
Once the problem is detected, we have 3 great alternatives:
BEST: Saving the relationship
The first option we should consider is to “save” the relationship. The world is small, and it is very easy for you to meet that person again later. So it is best not to burn the bridges.
To save a relationship, sometimes it is enough to make some adjustments such as the ones we have mentioned: modify the way we work, the way we communicate with the client, etc.
In other cases, we must swallow our pride so as not to end up in a dead end. The most normal thing is that this decision leads us to a much more productive scenario.
A HELPFUL PRACTICE: Skip Over the Details
It is possible to work with someone even if their behavior sometimes causes us some rejection. In fact, it is what almost everyone is required to do at some point.
A client can be too insistent, and although that is not pleasant to us, the most sensible thing is to manage that situation with patience, without giving it too much importance, always looking for a consensus solution.
Take the example of people who, for whatever reason, always make negative comments on blogs. Entering the cloth does not usually help to solve anything. Sometimes it is enough to ignore these comments so that the “negatives” get bored and disappear.
THE LAST CHOICE: Cut the relationship
Cutting off the relationship should always be the last resort. Among other things because, normally, this rupture has no going back: it is not easy for that person, that client, to trust us again.
What is clear is that it is not advisable to make this decision in a hurry and hot – for example, in the middle of an anger, or a fit of anger.
It is also true that sometimes breaking up may be the only solution. For example, one of the following cases:
– The client does not pay (and you have already ruled out these measures )
– There is a serious or repeated lack of respect
– The client asks you to do something illegal or unethical
– We come across one lie after another
And you, how do you manage difficult relationships?