The Intricacies of Client Relationships

I took a while to not write about my work because I was simply tired of hearing about it in my own writing and voice. I wanted to stop thinking about it so that I could focus on other things. I wanted to focus on actual work, but I realized that over the last couple of weeks that I was seeing something else coming to the surface.

Dealing with people isn’t my forte. I had a teacher that would disagree with me about this. She absolutely believed that I had it in myself to deal with a lot of people. She had witnessed it time and time again. Although I would like to think that her view of me is a little bit more complete than my view of myself, I can’t help but wonder where she got that idea. At more than one point, I had outright told her that I hated working in team settings. I still do. I work well by myself. If some invisible force emailed me a form with the work that I had to complete, I would probably be right at home.

Clients and freelancing are difficult. There are clients that get on your nerves as soon as you start working for them. There are clients that become increasingly more frustrating until you decide to give up and quit the job at some point. There are some clients that you never have problems with. I cannot tell you what makes a relationship with a client go smoothly. I cannot actually tell you what makes them go downhill.

In more than one instance, communication played a factor in this. I’ve had clients where our communication was stunted because of time zones, availability, language barriers, etc. All of these issues come with freelancing and using a website to facilitate that. Communication can make or break any relationship on any level.

However, I believe that it really just is up to the individual people. I have clients that don’t talk to me a lot, but they tell me what they want (and I mean exactly what they want) and when they want it by. I get along with these people. There’s no tip-toeing around issues with them. I feel comfortable to bring up issues as I see them, but I rarely find issues.

The worst client relationships have made me feel uncomfortable. I had a client repeatedly ask for either a Skype call or a phone call to discuss parts of his business that I was not involved in. I was editing blog posts, and that was all I had signed on to be. In that instance, I didn’t feel comfortable stating that I felt this was outside of my responsibilities as an editor. I decided instead to just state that I was unavailable, which I typically was because I was traveling during my time as his editor, and move on. That relationship eventually deteriorated and I decided that I didn’t want to repeat those mistakes again.

So how should you deal with clients as a freelancer?

Well, you should treat everyone with respect (regardless of how your client treats you). You should listen to everything that they ask for. Even if it goes against everything you have known or think to be true, you should be listening to your client. You can argue for something that you believe in, but if your client wants to just keep doing the same thing, then respect that. There are plenty of things that I do that are a little bit out there that I ask other people to put up with.

If you are working for someone, then just do your best to listen to them and respect what they want. In the end, if you try to communicate and treat them with all the respect that you can muster, then you should make a good relationship with your client. There will be those clients that cause problems for no reason that you can understand, but you can do your best. Just like how you might not have the best relationship with a boss or coworker at a normal office job, there will be clients that you don’t get along with.

What’s best at that point is to part ways and hope that they find someone that they work well with. But just keep doing your best.

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