Occasionally you have to deal with a bad client relationship in your business life. When you are a business owner, you have to be strong about discerning if someone is pushing you too far and if someone is just a pushier type of person. Not all of your clients are going to be the same, while some may make you feel like you’ve just gained a new friend and others may stay more professional and, in some cases, may even be toxic.
It would great if you could click with all of your clients right away and make it feel like you are working for friends, but in reality, you are going to get some clients that require more patience and effort to work with. If you’re struggling to determine if someone is simply harder to deal with or if they are actually pushing you too far, here is a look at how to properly assess the situation and prevent yourself from working with a toxic client.
Look at the big picture
You may need to look at the bigger picture to assess the context of what the client is complaining about, requesting, or commenting on. You feel you’ve offered a fair deal and it’s common to feel defensive when someone asks for a better price, something different, or simply says “no.” Rather than argue or push back, pull back from your conviction in how you feel and remove the blame you want to place on the client for not “getting” it.
Perhaps your client has a point and those budget cuts across the board are a legitimate problem. Stop yourself from getting angry or bitter and simply assess the bigger picture before reacting. In some cases, your client might not see the benefits as obviously as you think they would and if you can look at them as a partner rather than an idiot, your clarification or time to discuss it further may be exactly what was needed.
Work styles that clash
Many times, when a relationship isn’t going smoothly, it’s because of a clash in work styles. One person might like to get to the point while the other might want to communicate in a friendly, casual style. You may need to assess your client’s lifestyle to see what cues you can pick up on.
Do they tend to be more reserved or perhaps they’ve let you know that they have a lot more tasks to complete for the day which is leading to a more abrupt response style? If you can adjust your communication to match theirs more without losing your authenticity, you’ll have a more satisfied client that feels respected.
Know when enough is enough
If you’ve been more than polite, offered helpful information, tried to adjust your style of communication, and assessed the big picture but the client still doesn’t seem like a good fit, know when to walk away. Clients that constantly change the parameters, refuse to play fairly, and are excessively challenging may need to be let go.
You should both be able to be proud of the work you achieved together and the relationship should improve over time, so without these elements, it proves that your relationship with this client is too toxic. If you feel you can do nothing right, the bumps in the road never improve, and you’ve tried all of these tips already, it may mean that your client is not willing to engage in a healthy work relationship. A few disagreements can be overlooked but if neither of you are making the other better, it’s time to know that enough is enough.
These are the ways to determine if a difficult client relationship is too toxic to continue. Avoid these types of relationships in business so that you can enjoy serving your customers and you won’t be putting all of your energy into pleasing one that is impossible to please.