We all have one. Hopefully, we don’t have more than one. Hopefully, we’ve built enough self-care into our business to ensure that we weed out the impossible clients.
For me, there is always a period of grace. A period where I go above and beyond the work required. Beyond expectations. Jump through hoops. Do added work for no additional charge.
Sometimes, that is enough to smooth out the irrational client. More often than not, it just makes the ridiculousness of my effort blatantly apparent until I come to the realization that this client can’t and won’t be pleased.
Usually, once I come to that realization, the only thing left is to find a way to gracefully end the working relationship. The quickest way to do that is to stop doing all the extras.
It happened today. “How much more can we get for the same price?” they asked.
“Nothing more for the same price, but if you would like to add additional work, we can revise the budget.”
“No. No. It’s just…” (and then the litany begins)
“I understand. It may be that I am not able to help you in the way you need, and that is unfortunate. Usually, I exceed all my client’s expectations. Would you like me to stop working on your project? I can send you a final invoice and we can part amicably.”
Sometimes, there is spluttering.
Sometimes, a delay in the inevitable: the working relationship is finished.
I have learned a thing or two these many years as a freelancer.
- There are some people whom you truly just can’t please. It’s not personal. It is a part of that individual’s way of interacting with the world. To some, the idea of being pleased and happy with someone else’s work is a sign of weakness. They are convinced (wrongly) that they will lose power.
- There are some people in the world who prey on people in this very manner. It is a tool. A tactic. One they use over and over and over again. They do this, because in the beginning, it works. They get a lot of “extra” without having to pay for it. These people usually behave this way with other parts of their lives as well. They are deep, dank holes. Once you spot it for what it is: move! “Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.” Literally. It is a sticky trap that will suck your beautiful soul dry.
- There will be the very rare client where you are just not a good fit. It is not a flaw in you, nor in them. It’s just not a good fit. Stop trying to force it to be something that it can’t be. Let it go gracefully.
In case you haven’t guessed, business is Relationship 101. You get a crash course in human dynamics and “who your people are.” The bonus: you don’t have to sleep with any of them!