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Four Strategies to Handling a Rude Client

Happy Monday to you! In addition to the weekend serving as a personal break from the workweek, it may also provide a much-needed break from a headache or two. And by that we mean a disrespectful client.

Well, it’s time to take the high road, my friend, and focus on several ways to effectively deal with the rude culprit.

1. Take a deep breath and read The Four Agreements. Seriously. It’s time to take the high road and if the client says something disrespectful, brush it off. Don’t take it personally. If they’re rude, it’s not about you. It’s all about them! Let their snide remarks literally roll right off your back. (Easier said than done, we know.)

In The Four Agreements, author Miguel Ruiz writes, “Nothing others do is because of you.  What others say and do is a projection of their own dream.  When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”

2.  Don’t stoop to their level; pause before hitting send. The person may be trying to stir the pot and send antagonistic e-mails to rile you up. Whatever their intention, the result is the same: You’ve received an e-mail that’s derogatory and downright negative.

Again, take a deep breath. Instead of instantly shooting off a blaring e-mail to your defense, simply pause. Draft a response and then walk away for about 10 minutes or longer. Reread it. Does it make you look hostile, too? Would you want it to be published on the cover of The New York Times?

It could even present the opportunity to go the other way so you kill ‘em with kindness! Take time to watch your words and keep those emotions in check. Even if you’re in a meeting and the person says something inappropriate in front of colleagues, pause, take a deep breath and craft your response by taking a tactful stance and sticking up for yourself.  Maintain your professionalism throughout your interactions with the client.

3. Be grateful. That’s right, we said grateful. Here’s why: As soon as you’re immersed in a bad situation that gives you that pit in the stomach feeling, start noticing how you interact with your other clients or colleagues. Pretty darn grateful, right?

“They said, ‘Thank you!’” You’ll acknowledge the minute things that mean so much like their own ability to be respectful, thankful of your efforts, cognizant of your time. Unfortunately, we often learn the most lessons from the wretched ones. They teach us to appreciate the good folks!

4. Walk away if you can. Maintain your power! If the client’s contract ending, consider walking away. If they’re consuming your time and energy and always spinning things into a negative swirl, it’s time to move on.

If you’re stuck — let’s say it’s a lucrative client and you’re in contract for another year or you’re internal and can’t easily get rid of them — the exit door is not within reach. Remind yourself this is a temporary situation; it may offer a sigh of relief when you’re still immersed in the rudeness. Focus on other things to get you through to the end date such as other clients who are positive, all of your achievements and all that you’ve learned from this situation.

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