Taming the Temper: How to handle tough clients you can’t afford to lose

Credit: choosingservice.com

Credit: choosingservice.com

We all have them – Clients with whom we don’t always see eye-to-eye. This can range from minor disagreements to full-scale fights.

As a freelancer, neither you or I can likely afford to lose a client, even if they’re difficult. If you find yourself in a situation where you’re working with a metaphorical troll, here’s how you can keep calm and carry on.

1. Be Confident

Above all else, you’re a professional and you should be treated as such. If you want to garner any respect from clients, you need to carry yourself as a professional and have confidence in who you are and what you do.

Provided you do great work and feel you’ve done well by your client, you have every right to stand up for yourself.

Let me give you an example that happened to me. A client contacted me through Fiverr, asking me to flesh out his e-book by a considerable length. I messaged the man back asking what he was looking to spend on the project and his anticipated deadline. He reared back and said he knew that trick already and proceeded to tell me about how he lost a considerable amount of money in another business venture and that this job shouldn’t take much time for a professional like me.

While his words were kind(ish), but nonetheless, he was trying to get me to go lower than my set rate. If I’d been less experienced, I might have said yes, and even now I think I work a bit too cheap sometimes. That said, and to make an already long story short, I gave him my rates and shut my mouth (one of my haggling tips from this post).

I never heard from him again, but I was happy I stuck up for myself. If you do good enough work, you will find those clients who are willing to pay the right price; it’s only a matter of time.

2. Don’t respond right away

Whether you choose to meet with your clients via email/messaging, phone call, Skype or in person, sometimes the meeting doesn’t go well. Maybe the client isn’t happy with the work you’ve done, and they say something that really ticks you off.

At all times, it’s important to remain the professional; to be the better person and not stoop to the level of unproductive arguing. If you find yourself in this situation, before you respond to any criticism, insult or complaint, hang up the call, take some time before responding. Do something you know will cool you down – exercise, vent to a friend or loved one, make a sandwich – whatever works for you, just don’t respond to the client until you’re fully cooled down. Make a decision once your emotions have subsided.

3.  Create a protocol

Just as freelancers have certain rates for certain projects, they should also have consistent standards on how they handle their clients. With these standards in place, your client can’t make the arguement that you’re being strict with them since you stick to your metaphorical guns with every client. Additionally, adhering to strict rules will help keep problematic clients from contacting you in the first place.

Next week, we’ll talk about when it’s time to part ways with clients.


Be sure to check out my portfolio and professional site here

Happy freelancing and we’ll talk again next week!

– Adam


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2 thoughts on “Taming the Temper: How to handle tough clients you can’t afford to lose

  1. When to Walk Away from a Client | Quill.0 October 8, 2014 at 10:56 am Reply

    […] week, we talked about how to handle problem clients. This week, we talk about how, when and why to walk away from your […]


  2. […] of hurt. I didn’t even really know how to respond or if I should at all. So I took my own advice and slept on it. Well, all right, I sent the customer a message clarifying my rates before I […]


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