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No matter how good your service is, you would at some point have to deal with an unhappy client. That is to be expected. A successful resolution will therefore be dependent on knowing and understanding the cause of their displeasure in the first place, and working towards a solution. The problem however arises when the client is not really unhappy about anything in particular, but one who you later find out is belligerent, dishonest and unreliable.


Dealing with such clients can be stressful. Unfortunately there is neither a crystal ball to warn us off such clients, nor a magic wand to make them disappear! If you happen to find yourself ‘in possession’ of such a client however, all is not lost. Some useful tactics to employ in handling such clients include:


1. Active Listening. It is important to always practice active listening with such clients. It helps to keep them in check while discussions are going on, before any decision is made. Active listening involves asking open-ended and probing questions, requesting for clarification as well as paraphrasing and summarising.


2. Be on the same page. As much as possible, try to mirror the terms and phrases the client uses in order to bring your ideas and suggestions in sync. This has been known to help smooth difficult client relationships.


3. Stay focused on the end game. In spite of the distractions and impediments being put in your way by the client, keep your focus on what you need to achieve. You may not actually be working toward the end goal if your energy is being expended on trivial matters.


4. Pin down the details. Be specific, measure everything. Your saving grace may actually be the specifics when you’re dealing with such clients. Generalisations and leaving things to ‘take shape’ in time is certainly not a good idea, as this leaves room for misunderstandings. Make them get specific and agree on these details.     


5. Reminders, Reminders, Reminders. It might seem excessive, but it is crucial to build more reminders into your dealings with such clients – more than normal. Reminders for yourself and reminders for the client. It goes a long way to manage expectations on both sides.


6. Part ways. You may be better off firing the client when you have exhausted the previous five steps. When the stress is no longer worth the revenue, it is better to go your separate ways. You can’t put a price on peace of mind!


“Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.” —Dalai Lama

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