If you’re working as a freelance writer (or any kind of service provider, for that matter), chances are that not every client you work with is going to be the perfect match.

You can encounter a whole range of difficult clients, from those who don’t pay on time to those who don’t provide a clear brief or overstep boundaries. Dealing with such clients requires a professional approach.

While it can be challenging, responding with sass or anger only makes things worse! That’s why in this article I’m going to share my best tips for dealing with difficult clients.

1. Stay professional

Although it can be difficult, it’s important to maintain professionalism when dealing with difficult clients. Responding with sass might provide temporary satisfaction, but it often leads to escalated conflicts and worsens the situation.

Even if you know you’re in the right, it’s never wise to make a client angry, so whatever you do remain professional!

2. Take a step back

When you’re feeling frustrated, it’s helpful to take a break. Close your laptop, shut down your computer, and leave your office for about 20 minutes to half an hour.

Use this time to calm yourself, take deep breaths, and let go of the negative emotions. Whether it’s having a cup of tea or a glass of wine, find something that helps you relax before responding.

3. Reflect on the situation

Once you’ve had a chance to cool down, revisit the situation with a fresh perspective. Try to evaluate objectively where you might have contributed to the issue or gone wrong.

In many cases, difficulties arise due to miscommunication. You may have assumed what the client wanted without seeking clarification. To avoid such situations, it’s crucial to clearly communicate your needs and expectations from the client before starting any project.

4. Set clear boundaries

Setting boundaries is vital in dealing with difficult clients. Determine what you are willing to tolerate and what you aren’t.

For example, if a client expects immediate responses, you can establish specific times for addressing client inquiries, which you can communicate with an automated message. Setting boundaries ensures that clients understand your availability and helps maintain your focus on completing your work effectively.

5. Communicate non-negotiables upfront

Before engaging with a client or exchanging any money, clearly communicate your non-negotiable terms. For instance, you may specify a maximum number of revisions or a specific process for requesting changes.

This way, clients can decide whether they are willing to accept your terms before the project begins. By stating your expectations upfront, you avoid potential conflicts and misaligned expectations down the line.

6. Find a mutually beneficial solution

When dealing with difficult clients, aim to find a solution that works for both parties. Start by calming yourself and objectively analyzing the situation. Look for ways you may have contributed to the problem, and then propose a solution.

This might involve accommodating the client’s requests this time while ensuring that future projects involve clear communication and adherence to your terms. By finding common ground, you can maintain professionalism, fulfill your obligations, and keep the working relationship intact.

7. Know when to say goodbye

Occasionally, you may come across a client with whom it’s necessary to part ways. This might be due to unrealistic expectations, late payments, or other issues. In such cases, it’s important to handle the situation professionally.

Instead of expressing your frustration, you can provide a polite explanation such as accepting a larger role with another client or changing your business model. Giving a couple of weeks’ notice, if possible, allows the client to find a replacement. If it’s a one-off project, complete it professionally and politely decline any future requests due to being busy with other clients.

Final thoughts

If you took anything from this article, keeping a cool head and handling difficult clients with grace and professionalism is essential.

By following these tips, you can navigate the challenges posed by difficult clients while preserving your reputation and maintaining a positive working environment.

If you have any other questions or concerns about working with clients, don’t hesitate to reach out. You can contact me for further guidance or advice.