Overcoming Tense Client Situations
Anyone love confrontation?
I know I don’t. I know I come across like I do because I have the look and demeanor of
someone that can come on aggressively, but I hate it.
I spent most of my life being one of the biggest kids/men in the room and I can honestly
say I have never been in a fight. This isn’t because people didn’t try but there was
nothing, I can remember worth fighting over so I always talked my way out of the
situation by seeing it from the other persons perspective.
There was one time I hit a kid when I was in high school because he wouldn’t stop
talking shit about my mom and that is just someone you don’t talk about. You can attack
me all you want but keep my mom’s name out of your mouth!
But I realized much later in life this is actually a form of empathy. I was told I struggled
with that because I wasn’t patient with employees who were not doing their job but it’s
because I don’t have patience for excuses. Show me effort and I am fine. Bring me
excuses and I don’t have empathy for that!
But when it came to see the situations from the other persons perspective, I am
incredible at looking at it from a high level and very objectively.
Have you ever sat back and was able to view yourself like you are floating above the
situation and was able to see something about yourself that you didn’t realize you were
doing or feeling and learned from it? Made the change? And felt super proud of yourself
for being self-aware? I have!
Type A people don’t always have a filter. My thoughts bypass the filter and go straight
from thought to maybe I should not have said that after it’s been said. Well, being self-
aware allows you to see things from other people’s perspective and not feel negative
about the learning experience.
This comes in incredibly helpful in tense client situations. Like when unknown change
orders happen, delays happen, weather happen, missing deadlines happen, employees
All of these things happen in a project. If you have ever hired someone to do a home
improvement project did everything go smoothly? If not did the person managing the
project take ownership or make excuses?
Are you managing a project right now that isn’t going perfectly, and you find yourself
blaming employees or subs?
If you are, I promise you the client is not feeling like you are hearing them and seeing
their pain and frustration. A simple “I can understand why you are frustrated about….”
And “I will see to it that this is resolved as soon and possible” can change the way the
client views you after the project is done.
They are frustrated and that is not going away but they will appreciate you so much
more if you had the empathy. A lot of the time you will see them defuse right in front of
you. They were expecting to have to fight with you to get what they think is fair. And
when you give in and apologize and see if from their perspective, they will almost
always calm down immediately or within the near future and even may apologize to you.
When was the last time someone blew up at you then came back and apologized and
thanked you for understanding? They may have even said something along the lines of
“It’s not you it’s me”. But seriously people have all kids of stressors in their lives and you
may have just ended up being the outlet for their frustrations at the end of the rope.
When that is the situation pushing back and standing your ground is never a good idea.
Be understanding, see if from their perspective and ask yourself. How would I want
someone to respond to me if I was feeling what they are? Then do that thing. Unless
that thing is a punch to the throat. Don’t do that.
Bottom line is people just want to know their concerns, complaints, and challenges are
being heard whether you have an immediate solution for the problem yet or not. They
just want to know you care enough to try.
Win Fast, Win Often