Ever have that anxious or tense feeling when you walk away from a client? Do you sometimes walk away scratching your head? Or does your blood boil sometimes, and you just want to tell someone where to stick their sunshine?

We’ve all experienced these feelings from time to time. So how can we be our best with a difficult client? Here are a few tips:


You can diffuse a lot of bad situations before you ever see your first client. A healthy business should have a well-defined value system and mission statement, as well as contracts that are clear so clients can understand what to expect.


If a client is upset, it’s important to know exactly what the problem is. But remember – it may not be what you think, and they may not know how to explain it well. Ask questions and then just listen. Don’t get defensive, and don’t jump to conclusions – the solution often becomes clearer and simpler as you get more information.


Respect the fact that they’re frustrated. You may disagree with their point of view, but remember that it is their point of view – and since they’re your client, that should matter to you. Using phrases like, “It sounds like you had expectations that weren’t met,” or “I can see how that would be frustrating,” can demonstrate that you understand they’re point of view, without completely giving in.


If you have a colleague or a co-owner, check in with them. You don’t have to name names, but you can talk about the situation and your part in it. It’s healthy to get an outside perspective before responding to some situations (yes, this means you don’t have to respond immediately to a difficult situation – it’s ok to say, “Let me sleep on it”). This is also a good opportunity to vent – just be sure it’s with colleagues or mentors that you trust.


When we’re kind to others it builds trust. Working through a difficult situation with kindness isn’t always easy, but it can strengthen a connection and potentially attract more business. If you can find a way to compromise it might leave you and your client feeling better.


People interpret a lot from body language and tone of voice, often subconsciously. Crossing your arms, checking your phone, furrowing your eyebrows, getting up while a client is speaking, or turning your chair away are all actions that people may perceive as negative, even if you don’t mean them that way. Be careful not to send a message that you’re not paying attention.


Remind yourself that not everything is about you. Sometimes a client’s challenging behavior has nothing to do with you – maybe they’re just having a bad day. If we hold on to every comment or misunderstanding, that’s on us.


A healthy company not only knows what it is selling, but also whom it wants to sell to. When beginning to work with people, you should recognize that there are risks to working with certain clients. Don’t be tempted to take in everyone who walks through the door – some may not be worth the effort! Sometimes saying no to a new job or letting go of a challenging client creates space for someone you want to work with.


Business Betties | Guest Post | Sarah Shube, LMHC, ATRSarah Shube, LMHC, ATR is a licensed mental health counselor and registered art therapist. She supports adults, children, and families, and her specialties include cognitive behavioral therapy, solution-focused treatment, and psychotherapy. She has a private practice located in Agawam, Massachusetts. The best way to connect with Sarah is by calling: (413) 686-0031 Monday through Friday 8AM-8PM.

Visit Sarah online at www.SarahShube.com.