Handling Difficult Clients: Act Like Your Teacher

Throughout my work in executive development, I often recommend that clients think of one of their favorite teachers to get beyond a challenge they currently have. It’s an amazing process. You get in touch with the characteristics/behaviors you still remember even up to today and then see how your own behaviors match up.

Keep Your Calm

The teacher I recall in these moments is Ms. Lynn in high school English class. She was open, calm, neutral, insightful and always objective. This has demonstrably helped me with challenging client interactions. Taking a page from her book, I remind myself that none of this is personal and that I’m there to help the situation, not make it worse. Challenging clients can be just that…challenging. But by remaining steady and calm, you become someone they can count on to mollify a situation.

Remain Objective

The ability to remain objective and not show your opinion/feelings too soon are essential for leading people in business today. If you know you wear your heart on your sleeve, it’s important to control this behavior to establish a professional climate with people versus a judgmental one.

A client recently went through this process with me and discovered an entire new set of behaviors they could now employ to further their ability to collaborate with a set of clients with whom he often feuded. It wasn’t an easy process and developing this ability took time since he was so accustomed to confrontation. Eventually, though, he grew in his ability to manage the client and created greater results in the process.

Channel your own Ms. Lynn and see how those long-ago lessons come in handy when you have a difficult client situation.  Let me know how it goes!

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