top of page

How to Handle Horrible Clients: 5 Strategies to Overcome the Bad Apples

We've all had them. The client that makes you physically shudder when you see them coming. You know, the one that makes you debate whether or not you should decline their call, or brace yourself and answer it because not doing so only intensifies the impending tongue-lashing. Rude doesn't even begin to properly explain them, and their overall disposition makes you wonder if they're taking vitamins to maintain the energy needed for their level of anger.

If you haven't had this client yet, consider yourself beyond lucky. As for the rest of us, we are all too familiar with the hoops that must be jumped through to attempt please a client of this variety. They are headache at the very least, but for whatever reason they continue to seek you out for your services. Although you may have learned how to manage them, how do you manage yourself when dealing with these type of clients? When they're tap dancing on your very last nerve, what steps do you take to keep from completely blowing up on them? Here, we'll explore some actionable ways to overcome the difficult ones!

1. Be calm.

I recognize this may be difficult when someone is directly in your face and possibly completely losing it on you, but it is in the best interest of both parties if you take steps to remain calm. Sometimes people are trying to see how far they can push you or they are exercising their own version of control. Further, control of others is not something we possess; you can only control yourself, and in these moments it's best to remember that.

Take a few deep breaths and use those moments to gain composure -- don't take the bait and bite back. Breathing deeply sends a message to the brain to calm down and relax. It's a simple, cost-free tool that can be used without anyone even recognizing what you're doing. It also can be the thing that keeps you from verbally assaulting (or worse) the client in front of you!

2.Don't take it personal!

Have you ever been to the store and asked the sales employee where something was at, only for them to snarl and snap while pointing you in the direction of whatever you asked for? Yea. Me too. It's confusing because all you did was ask a question, but it's clear that something was wrong before you ever approached them.

Understand the same thing happens with clients as well. We're not mind-readers, we're not always fully aware of what they have going on in their personal lives, and quite frankly, some folks just have a funky disposition. And in that, there's nothing we can do about it. It's not us, it's them.

However, if a client is responding to the work you've done, empathize with them and determine what next steps can be taken to make the necessary edits or alterations to the project. In this, it's still important to not take it personally because they're just reviewing the work and it doesn't align with what they envisioned. It may be difficult to set your personal feelings aside, as you've put your energy and efforts into the project and there's some level of attachment to it, but it's important to do so because you'll now have to pull clearer directives from them to make the changes.

3. Listen, and possibly apologize.

Sometimes it's them. Sometimes it's you. Sometimes it's both. When you're dealing with a perpetually disgruntled client, it may be difficult to determine which it is. These are the moments when it's most important to listen carefully to what they're saying.

Maybe they weren't clear when they gave you the parameters of the project, but is that worth arguing? Could you have asked for clarification regarding the assignment? Could you have asked more questions, in general? In either case, listen, accept responsibility where necessary, and apologize for the inconvenience. From there, see what changes need to be made, ensure that you're clear on the edits, and make them.

4. Be firm.

For those of us who are incredibly nice and have a tendency to cater to people, this may be difficult. But, have no doubts, this is an important skill because occasionally you will have clients that try to run you. Maybe they're used to that kind of environment, but if their approach with you doesn't work for you, you must say something.

Now, if you've never had to have one of these conversations, doing so may be an anxiety inducing and stressful situation. In that case, PRACTICE! I cannot stress this enough! Role play, find a friend, talk to yourself in the mirror... Do whatever you must to run through this conversation several times before you actually have it. Why? Because it never goes the way you think it will, but you want to at least have an idea of what you want to say so you're not speaking off the cuff.

Your time and skill are incredibly valuable. When someone shows you little regard, it's important to let them know that respect is mandatory. Asserting yourself doesn't mean you're being rude, it means that you're ensuring that a mutual level of respect is given. It's important to take responsibility where necessary, but assert yourself when needed; insults, threatening behavior, and racism are no-go's. Make sure they know that!

5. Fire the client!

When all else fails, fire the client. I know it's hard, but sometimes this is the best option. New business owners may have difficulty with this as when some strolls through their virtual or physical office doors, they're happy to have the business. However, when someone does not respect you, your skill, your time, or your business, you have to wonder why they're there in the first place and why they chose to do business with you. Understand that not all money is good money, and peace of mind is invaluable. Firing a client may not be pretty, but occasionally it has to be done.

Maybe you'll never encounter a client like this. Or maybe you already have. Regardless, you're now equipped with some strategies that can aid you in managing yourself and your business in the situation. Remember, you are central to your business and your actions will ALWAYS reflect against the business. People now buy people over everything else, so your reputation is of utmost importance.

Have other ways to manage difficult clients? Share with the community and drop them below!!

Yours in business,


#badclients #management #businessstrategies #businesstips #handlingbusiness

12 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

I know you may be thinking, "Rachel, what the heck is a landing page?" Simply put, it's a page visitors "land on," especially when you are specifically marketing something. The goal of a landing page

bottom of page