PLACE Designers | Client Abuse

In the construction and development world, as I am sure is the case in many industries, you occasionally encounter abusive individuals.  I am sure that people who otherwise are normal, fully functioning and considerate become either borderline or fully abusive under high stress conditions.

When I started my own business I was especially vulnerable to these kinds of clients.  I really needed the project (whatever it was) and I was inexperienced in negotiating directly with clients.  I was also inexperienced with what client requests were reasonable.

This presents itself through a client who is highly demanding, very micromanaging, and who is constantly shifting the goal.  This client is also unappreciative, demeans you, and often pays late or not at all.  They nag you to the point it interferes with you doing the actual work.  This kind of client hurts your self esteem and if you do not get outside perspective, much like other relationships, begins to set the storyline in your head.  Your failure to meet their goals (it is impossible) begins to convince you that you are a failure.

The way that I eventually recognized these clients was through my employees.  I put my employees in the position of dealing directly with clients like this.  In helping them process these requests, I got better at identifying the disconnect between fair and unfair.  Also I had experienced good clients, thankfully, and could make the comparison.

Why do we ever put up with bad clients?  Well, it is a good question.  I have essentially fired bad clients in more recent times.  But when you are desperate, you may feel like you have no choice.  The sad truth is that these kinds of unequal relationships never result in a good outcome for the victim.  Sometimes it only extends or delays inevitable failure of the project itself or client themselves.  But at the time, holding on to the hope of turning it around may be all you have.  I think many of us feel this way at some point in our lives and may be vulnerable to predators of differing kinds.

More to come soon.  If you want to get in touch please let me know!  Thanks for reading!

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