How to deal with a negative client

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Negative client feedback can be difficult for freelancers to take, but there are certain do’s and don’ts when it comes to dealing with criticism…

As a freelancer one of the most important things you have to do is keep your client happy. However, sometimes that’s easier said than done.

If you’ve got a negative client not only can it lead to friction in your working relationship, but facing constant criticism can also be quite demoralising.

However, it it doesn’t have to be that way. Follow these top tips to help you deal with negative clients.

If you want to avoid negative feedback in the first place then make sure you communicate effectively with your client from the start. If you’re unsure of anything then it’s always better to ask for clarification at the time than to take the wrong direction and end up with a disappointed client and lots of amends to make.

Don’t take it personally
We know that all freelancers put their heart and soul into every piece of work they create, which means if you get negative feedback it’s difficult not to take it personally. But as any successful freelancer knows, distancing yourself emotionally from work can not only help buffer you from criticism, but also help you assess your work from a client’s viewpoint.

Cropped view of business woman hands working, typing on laptop computer and making notes in notebook at cafe table

Think about your response
You know how it is. You receive a negative email from a client and you’ve already scripted an angry response in your head before you’ve even finished their email. But don’t be tempted to fire off a reply straight away if you’re angry, because you might say something you regret. Ignore the email until you’ve calmed down and then start writing your response.

Ask questions
If your client has issues with a piece of your work and you’re not sure of their reasons then ask why. If they haven’t clearly laid out what they don’t like about it, then without asking them questions you’ll never learn what you did wrong. Just remember to make your questions constructive and open-ended — that way you’ll get even more feedback that you can use going forward.

Sometimes it’s just easier to say sorry. A single, sincere apology will go a long way to helping calm your client down as it will show them that you’ve actually listened to the problem. Don’t over-apologise, though, because it will come across as insincere, and don’t think that a simple apology will solve everything — you will still have to work at putting it right.

Never go above your client
The golden rule of dealing with clients is to never go above their head. Even if you think your client is struggling with their workload or impacting on yours, you should avoid the temptation to contact their supervisor directly in an attempt to get things done. Not only will this annoy your client, it will likely annoy their supervisor, too, and could jeopardise your future relationship with the company.


Posted by The Secret Businessman