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Career: How to Bounce Back from Negative Client Meetings
Maybe they’ve just acted like a self-righteous moron
Career 02 Nov 2021

Client meetings – or any kind of meeting with anyone you’re working for – can leave you feeling blue in many ways.

Maybe they only had negatives to say about your work, despite you having spent ages on the project. Perhaps they think you’re overcharging and want to haggle over your pre-agreed invoice. Maybe they’ve just acted like a self-righteous moron.

There are plenty of bumps along the road of self- / employment. We’re here with our advice on how to deal with moments of conflict with clients.

Don’t react straight away

If this is happening over email, take a little while to cool down. Remember, anything you say via email can be used against you if this issue blew out of proportion. If the issue doesn’t need dealing with that day, take that evening to evaluate before lashing out or getting emotional.

If the meeting is IRL, try your hardest to go to a zen place in your mind and take some deep breaths. Avoid emotional language and get that meeting over as neutrally as you can. Walk away and work out how you feel, why, and what your next steps are.

Review – is this worth it?


Once you’re out of the heat of the moment, and you’ve had a chance to cool down, now’s the time to evaluate the situation. Take this time to work out how to react given the big picture. Do you need this relationship to last forever? Could you happily bite your tongue, get this job done, and never work with the client again?

Don’t take it personally

It can be easy to take negative feedback and experiences from work personally. This can be especially true if you work for yourself: “they didn’t like the work I did, they don’t like me”. It’s going to be really important for your career long-term for you to realise that you aren’t your work. Are you exactly the same in work-mode as you are with your friends and those that you’re closest to? Work you ≠ you.

Get specific feedback

If the feedback you got during the conversation is feeling a bit vague – and especially if it’s feeling a bit personal – make sure you get specific feedback from them later. Every experience is an opportunity to learn, and you should make sure that – if there are things you can improve on – this situation won’t happen again.

Give specific feedback

If your client has massively overstepped the mark, let them know. But be professional and specific. Let them know if the meeting has affected how you’ll be working together from now on. Maybe you’re needing to change your fee because of the extensive back-and-forth, maybe you’ll be finishing this project and terminating a longer-term contract with them. Tell them and make sure everything is clear, in writing and out in the open.

Is your brand attracting the wrong clients?

If you work for yourself, you’ll know how important branding is. Are you finding that loads of your clients have wound up being annoying / too corporate / not understanding of your vision? Maybe you need to take a look at your branding and how you’re attracting clients. Make sure you’re giving yourself the best opportunity you can to work with people who’ll really get you.

Author: Verity Babbs

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