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Dealing with Difficult Clients: Balancing a Fine Line

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“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”

– Bill Gates

Do you agree with this statement or have difficult clients had the opposite effect upon your perspective as a writer? The truth of the matter is that you have likely experienced both of thee sensations. How can you address the needs of a customer who seems impossible to please? This age-old question has been pondered by multinational corporations and freelance entrepreneurs alike. Let us look at a handful of useful suggestions.

Ask for Clear-Cut Directions

Difficulties often arise from simple miscommunications. Consider these two client requests:

  • Write this article with excitement.
  • This article should be written with the needs of a youthful audience in mind while still keeping a professional tone.

Both of these could have been written by the same customer and yet, the second request is clearly superior than the first. Never be afraid to ask for clarification; even if it involves what appears to be a trivial concern.

Separating the Meat from the Bone

Authors will often attribute difficulty to the length of the instructions. To be sure, three pages of requests intended for a 400-word article can be obtuse and even insulting on occasion. The key here is to strip away the superfluous from the critical. In most cases, even lengthy instructions can be distilled into a handful of takeaway points (think about some of the team orders that you have encountered in the past). Try to “boil away” the needless fluff in order to appreciate the skeletal framework of what is required. Once again, ask for further details if you feel that they are necessary.

The “FroMLE” Approach

This next piece of advise was originally embraced by American Express. FroMLE is an acronym for “from my limited experience”. This is not to say that you should belittle yourself. It rather signifies that a bit of humility can go a long way towards establishing a better rapport with a client who seems impossible to please. They will appreciate your candour and in return, a fruitful (and loyal) relationship could soon develop.

There may also be instances when it is better to walk away as opposed to dealing with an abrasive or otherwise acerbic individual. The key is to remember that you have an arsenal of options at your disposal before you ultimately decide to search for greener pastures.

About our author

Ron first arrived in Barcelona, Spain in 2007. Although initially pursuing a career in wealth management and finance, he learned that the content writing community provided the highest level of personal satisfaction while still being able to personally help clients. He has been a full-time professional writer since 2011. Some of his other interests include martial arts and bodybuilding.

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