Handling Difficult Clients in the Freelance World

Navigating through choppy waters can be a challenge, especially in the freelance world. Difficult clients can really test your mettle and make you want to pull your hair out. But with a little bit of savvy knowledge and finesse, managing those tricky customers isn’t impossible! Taking cues from the boat captain steering his vessel beside rocky shores – which is just like tackling wilder clients – we’ve put together some top tips on how best to handle these tough situations. With patience and calmness, you’ll soon find yourself sailing smooth waters again before you know it. So sit back, relax, and prepare yourself for heading into sometimes rocky seas with grace intact.


Working in the world of freelancing comes with a variety of clients – some great, and unfortunately, sometimes ones that could try your patience and professionalism. But don’t worry, I’m here to share my tried-and-true tips for how to manage any difficult client situations that might come up. So put on your pro hats, crank up the determination, and let’s dive in!


Setting solid boundaries is key. With a distinct range of what are acceptable and unacceptable behaviors, everyone will know where they stand and feel secure – no guessing game involved! Having these lines in place prevents any confusion between individuals from the get-go which can be an imperative factor to preventing disagreements. As with any relationship between two people, establishing clear boundaries from the beginning helps determine if it’s a compatible venture.


Right off the bat, any freelancing gig needs to be crystal clear on available hours, jobs that need to be done, deadlines, and back-pedaling rights. Drawing up an airtight agreement helps keep issues from coming up in the first place while providing a reference point for when it’s time to hash out disagreements.


Being a great listener isn’t easy, but it is essential for connecting with those around you. Pay attention to both verbal and non-verbal cues while engaging with someone; nodding your head when they pause in their story or acknowledging a feeling they express will show them you are paying close attention. Even beyond the basics like hearing what they say, actively listening involves interpreting things said and unsaid alike that help create an even deeper understanding of the person’s feelings – imagine taking the conversation outside its literal meaning now and then! Mostly though, it helps ignite mutual empathy so good communication can take place. It’s true what they say: we have two ears and one mouth – listen more than talk!


Clients can come off as hard to deal with when they feel like their words are just falling on deaf ears. It’s essential to practice active listening so you really lock onto what it is that they’re trying to communicate, and mirror-backing your understanding of their issues confirms that you’ve got a grip on all the intricacies of the problem. Letting them know that their grievances have been noted is a surefire way to show ’em – once and for all – that you won’t rest until those concerns have been properly addressed.


Of course, no matter the situation, it’s always vital to maintain a professional attitude. It can be hard when things get heated but preserving composure and keeping behavior dignified is key for showing respect and getting the job done. People will take you far more seriously if you show that level of maturity!


Maintaining your professionalism is a must regardless of what the client throws at you – you know how these things can blow up really fast. Make sure that all your replies are professional and polite, even through particularly tough times. Your behavior in difficult situations could either make or break your rep so don’t forget why manners matter! Just remember to stay on brand with whatever arrives on ya plate.


Before you have your say, put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Make an effort to comprehend the perspective of others before claiming yours is correct and demanding that it be heard. This not only will allow for greater understanding between two (or more) parties but also can perhaps result in collaboration instead of conflict.


When you come up against a hard-to-please customer, take a breather and try to see things from their point of view. Could it be that what’s really causing them stress is outside pressures? Maybe some aspects of the project just aren’t sitting right with them. Getting into their shoes could give you the clues to effectively tackle any issues they may have.


It is important to be both firm and fair in any situation. This means setting boundaries and expectations, then standing your ground- while also taking into consideration the views of others for a more balanced perspective. Achieving equilibrium allows for respect toward all involved without infringing on others’ rights. Sure, you may feel like flexing your muscle and showing who’s boss once in a while; however, if done with too much force only sourness will result. In the same way that one can’t bring an apple tree back to life by over-watering it – it takes a light yet formidable hand to properly nurture relationships between fellow human beings!


It’s crucial to give your clients what they need, but you also have to hold fast when it counts. If the customer is asking for more than was agreed upon in the contract, just remind them of their commitment before exploring other options – usually at an extra price tag!


When it comes to proving yourself in the professional world, written communication is key. You need to send clear messages and expressions that show you understand your field – not just how to type a text message. Writing requires thoughtful consideration of emotions as well as facts, creating vivid pictures with words while making sure everything happens at the right time. It’s certainly no easy task but after mastering this skill, opportunities will be bountiful!


Tough conversations can often be made more constructive when done through writing. Emails give you a chance to really think through your responses, instead of letting emotion get the best of you, plus you’ll have saved evidence of the chat which always comes in handy.


When it comes to relationships, sometimes understanding when to move on proves more difficult than most would think. It can be emotionally stirring and rather unpleasant to realize that parting ways is in the best interests of both parties. Even so, as painful a situation as it may be, sometimes we have no choice but to part ways for our own well-being. As difficult and heartbreaking as this might seem at first, not doing the right thing could lead to even further suffering down the road – so don’t delay and take action today.


If you’ve exhausted all your options trying to salvage a client relationship that has become overwhelmingly difficult, it might be best for both of you if you call it quits. Holding onto an ACR (unacceptable client relationship) will only suck the life out of ya as well as gobble up precious time and resources much better spent on projects that can actually churn out some results.


Dealing with tricky clients is something every freelancer has to learn the hard way. Establishing strict limits, really listening to what they have to say, staying professional even when their requests go out of bounds, getting in their shoes, being firm if you need to be, and opting for written communication are all essential aspects of turning any tough client situation into a learning experience. Keep in mind that every customer teaches you something — whether it’s good or bad — and will help build your career as an awesome freelancer.


  • James Stendernst

    James Stendernst is the featured author for Freelance U. James has an extensive background in freelance work and is an expert in many services for freelance work.

    http://Jamess.com support@freelanceu.net Stendernst James