Ways On How You Can Deal With Negative And Toxic Clients
Being self-employed and running your own business means you need to acquire clients. Also, you need to be productive and protect your time. However, negative and toxic clients can make a massive impact on your productivity and time.
We’ve all had our fair share of dealing with toxic clients. These individuals are highly demanding and think they’re always right. Likewise, they usually ask more than what they bargained for. And if things did not go their way, they’ll put all the blame on you.
Having a relationship with a toxic client can be annoying. The quality of your output can suffer, prevent you from meeting deadlines, and decrease the rate of your overall pay. Plus, it can affect your chances of obtaining new clients.
Unfortunately, this is a reality that most freelancers have to face throughout their careers. So how do you still maintain your professionalism even if you’re already at your wit’s end? Read on to find out.
Recognizing A Toxic Client
You can avoid toxic freelance clients if you know how to identify them even from afar. Here are some traits you need to look out for:
- These types of clients are usually the ones who will value your input and output and look for flaws every time.
- Doubts your expertise and skills. They’ll question all of your decisions repeatedly and will undermine what you can bring to the table.
- High-maintenance. They’ll sign up specifically knowing how much resources and time you need to finish the project. But eventually, they’ll begin to demand so much more than what’s initially discussed.
- Clients like these can’t seem to make up their minds. Although they can easily say what you’re doing wrong, they find it hard to make a final decision. They’ll even ask you to make revisions one after the other, including on the price of the project.
- Won’t pay on time. Rude clients pay late and will look for anything to dispute their bills.
Keep in mind that when working with any client, both of your purposes should be creating the project together. You should help and support each other. If your client becomes somewhat of a hindrance instead of a resource, then there’s a problem.
Have Zero-Tolerance Boundaries Set In Place
Often, aggressive clients happen because you did not set any boundaries during the contract stage. So before committing to a client, be clear on things that you will not tolerate. Let your potential clients know from the get-go that you will not be put up with bullying or being sworn at. Make sure to set your policies, communicate them to your client, and be firm.
Learn How To Say No
Freelancers are often guilty of this. The saying that customers are always right is true, but only to a point. The problem with most freelancers, particularly newbies, is that they’re afraid to say no for the fear of losing the client and possible income.
Most clients see this and will take advantage of you intentionally. And sometimes, they’re not even aware that they’re going a bit too far. You’ll see yourself dealing with rude clients if you say yes all the time. So learning to say no and letting your clients know that you will not tolerate any bad behavior can save you from numerous headaches in the long run.
Always Ask For A Deposit
From the start, you need to set a rule for your business to never accept a job if the client refuses to provide a deposit. If you suspect or think that a client will disappear once you deliver the project, let him know that you won’t hand in the final output unless he fully pays you. For those who’ve already disappeared, consider asking advice from a lawyer on how you can recover your money legally.
Use Facts When Dealing With A Passive-Aggressive Client
Passive-aggressive clients are those who will give the thumbs up, and then come back to you hours later saying that they’re not happy with your design. Some may criticize you and even tell you that you’re not listening or open to other ideas.
Usually, these individuals will communicate with you in a polite and friendly manner. However, their words are full of venom. Hence, it’s important to have a paper trail when dealing with them. So make sure to keep every single communication you have with these clients and always refer it back to them.
Copy-paste what they’ve previously said if they’re distorting the facts. Often, you’ll see them apologizing to you. But some won’t let you win and make it even more difficult for you.
When you’re feeling frustrated with your client, take a step back. Doing so will prevent you from lashing out, which you may regret in the future. Negative and toxic clients will not think twice about sending you nasty emails or making nasty comments. In frustrating situations like these, it’s vital to stay calm.
So instead of sending back an equally offensive email or comment to your clients, simply walk away from that situation. And then take a deep breath to relax and calm your mind. Be the better person and keep reminding yourself that this is not how you approach work and life in general.
Avoid Being Toxic Yourself
If you’re having issues with your clients, consider the possibility that your behavior toward them may also be toxic.
Are you misusing your authority? Are you creating an unequal balance of power? Do you always need to control every aspect of the project and not giving your client a chance to provide input? If you say yes to these questions, then it may not be the entire fault of your client.
Firing Toxic Clients
There are many reasons to fire a client, from being plain offensive to not paying you enough for all your hard work. Whatever the reason is if a client is hindering your productivity and you’re not comfortable, then fire them.
It can be tempting to give rude clients a piece of your mind. But you have to be polite and professional when doing so, no matter how toxic your client is. You can simply tell them that you’re terminating your working relationship because it’s no longer beneficial to both of you.
Keep in mind that some really nasty ones may publicly slander you and ruin your reputation. As a freelancer, you have to protect your reputation and avoid risking it by attacking your client through emails.
Why You Should Let Go Of Toxic Clients
- Disrespectful and negative clients will drain you emotionally. Also, it’s hard to focus on a task if someone is constantly questioning your skills.
- You’re not earning as much income as you think. They may take you away from other income-generating projects because of their demands.
- Toxic freelance clients can break your confidence. They’ll question your every action and quality of work, as well as stomp on your self-esteem.
- Negative clients can destroy your morale.
- One of the biggest problems with difficult clients is that it’s hard to satisfy them. Even if you’re producing excellent output, they will not be happy.
Never let anyone abuse and take advantage of you. Do not be afraid to let go if you think a client is becoming toxic, and if you’re no longer happy working with them. Remember that you’ll be more productive if you fire aggressive clients. Likewise, there are many better clients out there who will respect you and value your work.
Have you encountered toxic clients before? If so, how did you handle them? Share your experience in the comment section below.
Aileen is a Technical and Creative writer with an extensive knowledge of WordPress and Shopify. She works with companies on building their brand and optimizing their website. She also runs a local travel agency with her family. On her free time, she loves reading books, exploring the unknown, playing with her two adorable dogs, and listening to K-pop.
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I despise it when a client threatens me for no good reason. Just last week, a client threatened to call his lawyer to talk to me and to stop “messing around”. There was no reason for this idle threat – I have gotten all my work done for this client ahead of schedule and 100% complete, I never “mess around”, and always take my work 100% seriously.
This client will receive a professional “no” next time they ask for help on anything web-related. I do not need that toxicity in my life!!!