We all know the clients – they give you a big headache and they make you wonder whether you really enjoy your job anymore. Dealing with them makes you want to tear your hair out and pack it all in, once and for all.

Do you have a toxic client?

Just like personal relationships, it can be difficult to recognise if you’re in a toxic professional relationship. Each and every client that walks through your doors is different from the last, so it won’t always be easy to spot a client who is causing you trouble – but there are some obvious signs to be look out for:

  • Does the client always try to get extra perks that aren’t outlined in the contract or agreement?
  • Do they ask for extra services without expecting to pay for them?
  • Do they constantly make late payments?
  • Do they ignore your professional advice?
  • Do they ask you to do things that you consider being immoral or unethical – perhaps even illegal?

Most people would agree that these kind of behaviours are out of line and yet you may have certain clients coming to mind as you read those questions – so how do these clients even come about?

As business owners we always want to go that extra mile to make sure our client walks away from the experience raving about us, but this might be getting us into a little trouble; it’s that old adage of giving them an inch and them thinking they can take a mile.

Perhaps you’re also in the habit of accepting every single client that walks through your door. Many people have this issue and it actually comes back to your relationship with money – are you so anxious about the state of your accounts that you’ll put yourself through anxiety and stress, even for a small job?

Do you really need to get rid of them?

Yes!

If you’re in one of these toxic client relationships, you are spending far too much time in your day dealing with them. Not only is this a waste of your time and energy, it’s also time that you could be spending on acquiring new clients or making another job spectacular.

So, how do you say no?

Saying no isn’t easy but it’s important to always be kind. You won’t always be able to nip these relationships in the bud but it’s crucial to be on the lookout for the signs of a toxic client early on, so you can have an easier ‘break up’ and part with no hard feelings.

Always be as honest as you can be, so that they know why you won’t be a good fit for the work that they need done. Give solid reasons – after all, the client is emotionally invested in some way, so you don’t want them to walk away feeling as though they were rejected with no good reason.

If you tell your client that there is a problem, you also need to give them a solution. Maybe you can provide the solution yourself or you can refer them to someone else who can better help them. Either way, you need to know that the client will walk away feeling as though you care about them, rather than just trying to palm them off and get rid of them.

Remember to always be on the lookout for toxic behaviour from your clients – don’t waste your precious time, resources and energy on clients who might be better dealing with someone else.

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