Last week, crazy made headlines, “Man Charged with Impersonating Senator to Get Out of Loan,” “Alligator Bites Off Part of Florida Man’s Forearm,” and “Flying Turtle Survives Windshield Crash.” Each bizarre story reached millions of people, because circumstances and details were just so crazy. It’s a word we use often and it’s come to define many situations. It can be funny, disconcerting, exciting, worrisome, love struck, or strange. The very essence of the word conjures many connotations and we all recognize it when we see it. That’s why it makes great headlines but, crazy is trouble for business.
Crazy makes Great Headlines but Trouble for Business
In the 1570s, crazy meant “sickly” or “diseased.” Just a decade later, in the 1580s, crazy meant “full of cracks,” or “full of flaws.” It wasn’t until the 1610s it meant “unsound mind.” Charles Dickens wrote, “they were very crazy, wretched cabins;” and, in 1927, crazy entered the jazz culture, meaning “cool,” or “exciting.” Practically none of these meanings are beneficial to business. In fact, crazy is downright harmful.
With the good comes the bad, and in business this means dealing with difficult customers every now and again. Often, this is due to things you cannot avoid, such as a shipping issue that a third-party has immediate control over or a vendor item defect that you had no idea existed. Other times this may be a direct response to something you or someone from your company did – including responses to your behavior, communication or lack of it. —Forbes.com
When you enter the entrepreneurial world, you’ll encounter crazy firsthand. These are the customers or clients who make you cringe with every exchange, be it in-person, over-the-phone, or even through email correspondence. Crazy clients can easily drain your energy, zap your enthusiasm, be slow to pay but quick to criticize. The reality is, you will come into contact with crazy people; and, you know it’s better to keep than discard these individuals. Sure, you’ll probably want to fire crazy clients but, it’s an opportunity to learn about how to cope.
How to Deal with Crazy Clients
There’s no question difficult, unappreciative, manipulative, unhappy people exist. The problem lies in human nature, moods are contagious in many cases. So, how do you deal with crazy clients without endangering your own sanity and happiness? It’s not simple but, it certainly isn’t impossible. Here are some helpful suggestions for how to deal with crazy clients:
- Think before you speak. Words have meaning and usually, more than one. It’s not only what you say, but how you say it that counts. People arrive at conclusions differently and when you speak without focus on what you truly want to convey, it can be taken the wrong way. Think before you speak by considering probable reactions.
- Ask for specifics. Petty details can be quite troublesome, especially when you’re not seeing the forest for the trees. Allowing myopia to reign your client’s concerns isn’t helpful because you are dealing with small facets, not moving toward the ultimate goal. Ask for specifics and this will help quantify what is and what isn’t important.
- Acknowledge without agreeing. Listen earnestly and acknowledge what’s said but, do not agree. Instead, use the moment to shift the conversation in a more beneficial direction. By doing so, you’ll discover a solution for his or her complaint. Stay positive and keep the ball rolling to move on.
- Delegate work to someone else. There will be instances when personalities collide and can’t work together without conflict. If this is the case, don’t try to fight through it, assign him or her to someone else on your team who makes a good fit. This strategy creates a win-win scenario.
Have you used one or more of these suggestions or dealt with crazy clients in a different way? What’s your experience with difficult clients and what steps do you take to make the best of these situations? Please comment and join the discussion!