Let's face it: You don't have to be running PR for Donald Trump to find yourself mired in the muck with a difficult client. This is a common situation for those in PR and communications and it causes a lot of stress and anxiety. So it's important to know how best to deal with challenging clients, both to minimize the psychological impact on you and also ensure you deliver quality results for the client.
Here are seven tips on how to work effectively with such clients without sacrificing your mental health:
Get the important things in writing. It is important to get all of the details of your assignments in writing before working with any client. This will help prevent any worries or anxieties about the status of your job if something goes wrong later on. Getting everything in writing will also protect you from any legal issue you may encounter.
Develop a strong network of friends and contacts in the industry. You will not be able to please everyone all of the time. A difficult client may try to smear you, so it's important to have a list of clients and other PR professionals who can vouch for you when it comes to your career. In addition, make sure you have a good reputation on the internet.
Always be honest and sincere. All the time—not just when you're in the public eye. Don't do anything that you wouldn’t want to become public. If problems do arise from your work with a client, the public will always side with the honest and sincere person. Develop the habit of being honest, trustworthy, and caring every day of your life and people will come to you to enhance their reputation with the public.
Look at your current problem through your client's eyes. Put yourself in your client's shoes to understand how they view the current situation. You might be surprised at what you find.
Get to know your clients. It is important to talk to your clients regarding their hobbies, personal interests and concerns so that you get to know who they are as a person. Show your clients that you are willing to take the time to get to know them. Many of the people you work will appreciate you taking the time to get to know them on a more personal level.
Get advice from your colleagues. If you are having a really hard time with one of your clients, your best bet is to talk to other professionals in the industry to get their take on regarding your situation. Your peers could provide valuable insights on how to deal with challenging circumstances.
Talk to your manager. If nothing seems to work, then your best bet is to talk to your manager and see if you can get somebody else to work with a certain person. This may be the best thing for you and the client, too.
Stan Popovich is the author of “A Layman’s Guide to Managing Fear."