Creatives Beware: When Clients Attack!
As a creative being, it’s important to be prepared for an attack. As there aren’t repellents or safety equipment for these situations, it’s important to have a clear set of guidelines for survival. Brace yourself, fellow creatives — chances are it will happen to you if it hasn’t already.
An attack can happen when you least expect it. You may be presenting work that you’ve put lots of time and your entire self into when…ka-blam! The criticism may be strictly about the work, but as creatives, we tend to take it personally. Don’t allow your emotions to get bruised. Prepare for this moment and handle it with grace and clarity of direction. Be strong. Be creative. You can survive any attack with your limbs and dignity intact.
Steps to protect yourself against an attack:
1. Anticipate the dangers. When going into a client meeting, be prepared, as you may be in danger of an attack!
2. Do not fight back. This may be your first reaction during an attack. Do not agitate the client for risk of career-ending injury.
3. Take a deep breath. Focus and clarity are key to survival. Severe injury from client attacks have been significantly lowered by staying calm!
4. Consider their point of view. Ask yourself why they are attacking. Where are they coming from? What is driving this aggressive behavior?
5. Give them some distance. Clients can be wild. A long pause can be a great defense and buy you some time in your defense.
6. Play dead. Read the situation. You don’t have to have the answer on the spot. You can always get back to them after your adrenaline is back to normal.
7. Don’t bite the hand that feeds. Formulate a response. Turn the attack into a positive. Get back to your client with ideas that creatively address the criticism.
Clients are friendly and beautiful creatures. Treat them well and with respect when in their natural habitat, and you will have a great adventure. The partnership you have with your clients is paramount to doing good work and enjoying a mutual respect. Do your part to respect and understand your clients, and you will enjoy your work unscathed.