How do you speak about your clients?

I recently listened to a great podcast episode by Michael Hyatt on the subject of how you speak about your spouse.

To summarize, the way you speak about your spouse in public shows a lot about your character. If you speak poorly about your spouse, you most likely have, or will have, a poor relationship.

The language we use is important. Not just that we speak in the proper manner, but the words we use to express ourselves shows how we truly feel about the people and circumstances that surround us.

Look at sites like Clients From Hell. I’m not sure I’d want to work with any of the freelancers who post there. While some are funny, chances are that if you ever see a business owner link to the site, those owners are referencing the ridiculous posts — published about clients they’ve done business with.

Just what I wanted — a freelancer thinking I’m going to be an idiot before we’ve even worked together.

My bike shop

My local bike shop used to have an employee. He was a great mechanic, and seemed to be the only one who could get my rear gears to shift properly.

I really don’t love having anyone else work on my bike since I usually have to bring it home and do a bit of touch-up work.

So while I appreciated the work this guy did on my bike, the bad thing was that he would complain loudly about other customers.

You know XXXXX always comes in here and talks about stuff then last week he bought a bike on Craigslist. What a fat idiot buying a bike. He just needs to lose some weight not spend $4K on some carbon.

Yup, that’s what he’d say about paying customers. Most of these customers he complained about were people I knew, and rode with regularly.

Wonder what he said about me

I began to wonder what the guy said about me when I wasn’t around. I’ve been talking about a new bike for a few years, but between replacing all my appliances, and having kids, and trying to get the house ready for sale, the bike just hasn’t been a high enough priority.

What are the chances this guy tells other customers how much of his time I waste talking about a bike I’m not going to buy?

Are the customers really that bad and he just complains about them, or does his complaining create bad client relationships?

Your clients

We’ve all seen Clients from Hell and many of the things are hilarious. I’ve even had a few of the silly scenarios happen to me.

It’s easy to complain about challenging clients with your peers, but what does it say about you and your business?

Does that mean you complain about the other freelancers when they can’t hear you?

Do you complain about all your clients at some point?

photo credit: drewmaughan cc

3 thoughts on “How do you speak about your clients?

  1. Hey Curtis, great post and so true.

    Look at sites like Clients From Hell. I’m not sure I’d want to work with any of the freelancers who post there.

    I was listening to one of the seanwes podcasts last week, it’s my thing that I do – listen to business related podcasts while I’m out on a walk or at the gym doing the treadmill.

    Anyway, it was episode 122, about working with client relationships and Sean McCabe was making the point that if things do start to get crazy in the middle of a project then it’s our responsibility. Even if the client is behaving crazy, we need to take responsibility for it, because we are professionals.

    Professionals establish clear roles and expectations up front and if things do go wrong, professionals find ways to take responsibility, amateurs find ways to blame the client.

    I thought that was really good, and I immediately thought of the Clients from Hell website.

    Not sure if you listen to seanwes, but you should check it out, you’d probably dig it, plus Sean explains it much better than I can here.

    Have a good one!

    1. I have listened to the seanwes podcast and it is great. I had to start making choices about what I’d listen to in the summer because I simply can’t do more than 30 hours of podcasts a week and I had to drop it in favour of things like The Soul of Enterprise.

      He talked a bunch about taking responsibility for things in a much earlier episode as well and his thoughts on that has helped inform my thoughts for sure.

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