How Should Freelancers Deal with Rude Clients?

As all freelancers know, this career path has its good points and bad points. It’s nice to have flexibility and essentially be one’s own boss. At the same time, though, jobs can be infrequent. Freelancers and clients aren’t beholden to each other beyond project parameters.

Some clients might feel as if they’re doing freelancers a favor by even hiring them in the first place. Really, it’s the freelancers who are doing the clients a favor – after all, the client is saving money by hiring them instead of benefited employees. Dealing with rude clients should require equal amounts of tact and honesty.

Recognizing Rudeness

Many freelancers get their jobs through a combination of traditional job postings and, as they build a portfolio and references, word of mouth. For those traditional job postings, it’s easy enough to determine the chances of a client being rude just from the way the posting is worded. If the posting comes off as haughty, chances are the person who wrote it will deal with freelancers in much the same way.

As to word of mouth, that’s a little more difficult to determine due to varying perspectives/personalities. However, it’s my opinion that if more than two colleagues regard a client as rude, then chances are that client actually is. That being said, a client might be rude, yet be reasonable enough to deal with when it comes to project requirements and pay.

Character Considerations

When a client is being rude, it would almost be too easy to “return the compliment” by being equally as difficult. However, taking that approach could compromise the outcome of the project, as well as the freelancer’s professional reputation. Considering things from the client’s point of view might make a real difference. Some things to think about:

  • Does the client even know he or she is being rude? Sometimes, people are naturally sarcastic and don’t mean to cause offense. In which case, a possible response could be, “I find those words hurtful. I’d like to think that you wouldn’t knowingly say something like that.”
  • There might be an underlying cause for the rudeness that has nothing to do with the freelancer. For example, the client could be going through a tough time personally or financially. A phrase like, “No need for a frowny face!” might seem silly, but it’s that silliness that can actually give a person pause, putting the conversation on a more upbeat track.

Dealing with rude clients is, of course, never the ideal. However, the patience and maturity that’s required during such a process, even if the client is being deliberately rude, can be of great benefit to freelancers as they continue to navigate their way through job opportunities.

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