In an ideal world, clients will take a look at your work, love it and shower you with high rates. However, there’s going to be a time when you come across a client who you disagree with for whatever reason. Here’s how to politely get your point across:
Point out your expertise
If your client wants something that’s unrealistic or is not going to help them, then it’s your duty to point this out or you’re doing them a disservice. However, make sure you don’t do it rudely because that will just make them more likely to disagree. They probably won’t hire you again.
Instead, you need to politely point out your expertise.
You’ll do better here if you’ve got some examples of previous work where you can demonstrate that your methods get results. Make sure you deal with facts and evidence rather than just opinions, it’ll give your point a lot more weight.
Try to see it from their point of view
It may be that your client is actually right and if this happens you should be able to look at the situation with objectivity. Your client may have a lot more experience in this industry than you so their opinions are always worth considering.
If they’ve been doing something that works and you suggest something different, don’t be surprised that they don’t warm to the idea unless you can back it up like they can.
Watch your tone
When disagreeing with a client try to avoid using the word “you” if you can. “You” can imply a sense of blame or accusation that could end up with a defensive reaction from the client.
Instead of saying “what you are proposing doesn’t work” say something like “the proposal may not work because…” This creates a bit of distance that might make the conversation go a little easier especially if you have a well-thought out reason behind your point.
While you need to weigh up each differing opinion, be firm about your opinions and proposals if you know it’s the best thing for the client. If you end up creating work that doesn’t benefit the client, you’ll probably be the first person they blame even if you went ahead with something you disagreed with.
So try not to be too passive about your opinions. Tell them clearly and give good reasoning and examples. The kind of clients you want to keep are the ones who hire you for your expertise, not just to treat you like an employee and tell you what to do.
Try a compromise
If neither of you will back down then try to come to some mid-point between your ideas and compromise. If you feel you can’t do the work under their suggestions then you might have to politely decline the project.
If you can salvage it and come to an agreement that works for both of you, this is obviously preferable.
Have you ever had a disagreement with a client over work? How did you resolve it? Please share your thoughts.