Wendy, My Challenging Client

I believe in Pema Chodron’s words… “Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” And I’d like to channel that as I work through this situation. I will handle a similar situation differently if this ever happens again.

I’d like help working through models on a situation with my client. She happens to also be an acquaintance, a member of my community and friends with many of my other clients and potential clients.
I admit I consider all of the above as I think about how I want to respond to this situation.

I have lots of thoughts and feelings that range from annoyance and anger from my thoughts about her treating me disrespectfully to channeling empathy because I don’t know what she’s gone through in life to get her to this negative place. And I wouldn’t want to be in her shoes.

Clients exact words from voicemail….
“Overall feedback on working with you… I tried to make my life simpler rather than more complicated and I’m not going to read these T&Cs. You can tell me what’s in them bc that makes my life more complicated and I’m not going to do that. I actually did try to skim through and the part that’s in bold blah blah. It doesn’t make any sense when I read it. That’s what T&Cs are meant to do. Put things in paper you don’t understand. So I’m totally rebelling against that. You can tell me what’s in there that I need to know…. The other thing with the cancellation I didn’t understand either because you didn’t explicitly tell me can I cancel with no fee or anytime or do I lose 50% because in that case I’m not doing it and that’ how I read it.”

“I’m so over it. I’m not gonna read that email. I basically tried working with you. Asked you to do 2 simple things and we can’t seem to move anywhere but with more and more fine print. I’m so over the fine print. Can’t you just tell me what to do? Read through it, look at the polices yourself. And we’ll be done with it.”

This is just an example of one of the situations. The T&Cs she signs are peripheral to what I advise her on. I’m not a lawyer and it’s not my role to be her lawyer. I graciously told her a couple of months ago that clearly I wasn’t helping her in the way she wanted. That she could have her money back and move on. To which she responded “oh no you’re not getting rid of me that easily. I’m in for the long haul. This is just the beginning of our relationship.”

I allowed her to stay as my client. I clearly did not draw a bright enough boundary to let her know how I will respond if she chooses to talk like that again. I managed my mind and did thought models through additional interactions (thank goodness for the Model). I’ve looked for the positive in her. I’ve been kind and empathetic in my responses. I’ve not once lost my cool. I’ve diffused situations.
But it’s not worth it. Every other client I have loves the value I provide. Some clients actually offer and pay me more money because they appreciate what I do so much. By keeping her as my client, I’m disrespecting myself and my business. This just a thought – but my actions have reminded me of someone in an abusive relationship – making excuses for the other person’s behavior and staying in the relationship.

Unintentional thoughts:
• She is so disrespectful
• I have done so much to help her and she doesn’t value it
• She is a rude, nasty person who clearly thinks it’s ok to treat people badly

C Client said words above
T She is rude and disrespectful
F Angry
Do self coaching
Think of what I’d really like to say in response
R I come up with rude, disrespectful responses in my head. I’m disrespectful to myself.

IM #1
C Client said words above
T Something must have happened in her life that’s caused her to treat people this way
F empathy
Do self coaching
Respond via email and voicemail with kindness
(want to ask “what’s wrong love?” as Brooke would say, but it’s not appropriate.)
Help her understand better how the T&Cs work
Explain I can’t read and agree to T&Cs for her – she has to take that responsibility on herself
R ?

IM #2
C Client said words above
T She is simply not a good fit as a client
F neutral/accepting
Do self coaching
Come up with a script to let her go as a client
R I run my business true to my values

IM #3
C Wendy
T She is simply not the right type of client for my business
F empathy/love
Do self coaching
Tell her XXX from a place of kindness
R I no longer have Wendy as a client

On the positive side – I’ve become more skilled at dealing with difficult clients through this situation. I’m ready to move on without her in my professional life.

I’d like to let her go as my client. I’d like to communicate this to her from a place of love and empathy. Can you help me with the action lines in IM #3? I know you may want to ask me to come up with those. But I would really appreciate some guidance in action items in dealing with difficult clients, which, in life, many of us may have.
Thank you.