How to Handle a Demanding Client That is Sucking Up All Your Time

A demanding client, or otherwise a difficult client, who is making your work life miserable is bad news.

However, not all is as it appears.

For example plenty of times someone who is demanding and difficult, behaves in this manner because they dealt with someone uncooperative in the past.

Bill gates said that our most difficult clients are our greatest source for learning.

However, there are cases where people are difficult by nature and no matter what we do this is how they behave.

In most professions you will come in contact with such people, whether you work as a freelancer or are employed somewhere, difficult clients are everywhere.

But without clients our businesses cannot survive.

Our blog is dedicated to writers, but our writer’s tips that follow are applicable no matter what industry you are in.

So let’s get down to our first writer’s tip on how to handle demanding clients, and put a stop to them sucking up all your energy.

1. Learn How to Identify Demanding Clients

Sometimes you can tell straight away. Sometimes you can’t.

Some look like they are on the verge of a full-blown panic attack, others call everything an emergency or urgent.

Others have no respect for healthy boundaries, call you on weekends and show up with no appointments. Often they do not care if they are causing you any emotional pain, or if you are ready to cry.

Ok the last two sentences were an extreme example, but it has happened to the best of us.

My personal worse are the one who are never satisfied, but are not willing to pay for your extra time.

However, demanding clients are not always bad, sometimes it can be a good pointer to do some self-reflection and make sure we are indeed delivering value.

Now, if we are sure that we have done all in our power and yet the client is still demanding, we might have a situation.

While researching how to prep myself better to deal with difficult people, I came across an article for CPA Advisor explaining how demanding clients can have a huge cost on your business.

They are more likely not to pay you, dispute an invoice, even after they have taken every waking moment of your life for a week if not more (depending on how much patience you have).

They can be the cause of losing employees or bad reviews, and put a strain on your reputation.

Here is a general guide to help you identify them and make an educated choice as to whether or not you want to deal with this or not:

  1. People who cannot make a decision

  2. People who know it all

  3. People who underestimate what needs to be done thinking everything you do is simple and easy

  4. People who are in a state of emergency 24/7

  5. People that will nickel and dime every single invoice

  6. People that straight out yell and insult everyone

Now that we know what to look out for, let’s explore how we can handle it in the event that the situation is unavoidable.

2. Stay Calm (or visit the bathroom, put a pillow over your mouth and scream)

No matter what is happening, whether it is in person or online, stay cool and calm. Things said in anger cannot be unsaid.

Remember the one who manages their emotions best will survive.

Let the client scream and be rude, coming down to their level is risky for your reputation.

3. Do Your Best to Listen

This is all anyone ever wanted. Someone to listen to them.

This is why most people are running around like mad humans with flaming hair!

Everyone talks, no one listens.

If you remember nothing else from this article please at least remember that if you listen long enough people will tell you what they need.

Even if you cannot provide what they need, the fact that you listened will instantaneously make you a rare find.

Let your clients talk, express themselves, compliment their ideas and comments, and focus on their issue (even if they are imagining it).

To make your client feel understood, make sure you repeat what they say back to them in a form of a question and ask confirmation if this is what they meant. This serves two benefits.

  1. Client will feel that you are listening

  2. Client might understand they are being unreasonable

Either way, you will defuse the situation faster.

4. Do Not Ignore a Demanding Client

Ignoring them because you are not in the mood, or delaying your reply will only make matters worse for you.

Be prompt and show respect no matter what.

Then at least the ball will be in their court, and if they decide to misbehave you can sleep well at night know that you did your best.

5. Consider You Might Be at Fault

No one is perfect, sometimes the client is right (not always, but sometimes).

If it was your mistake, apologize and move on, offering a discount or anything you can to show that you do not want to lose the relationship.

6. Think Solutions

Offering solutions does not mean the client was right, it simply means you just got to know each other a little better and now you have a better idea of their vision and goals.

Solutions might mean anything from starting over, to making minor adjustment or even placing someone else on the project.

7. Know When Enough is Enough

When it is time to say goodbye, you will know. It is perfectly fine to part ways with clients.

Sometimes company policies, or personalities clash.

Your reputation and your dignity are more important that one project. Not all problems can be fixed, and not everyone can get along.

Be civil, professional, cut your losses and do your best to learn something from each experience.