When To Divorce Your Client (or Your Boss)

I tried. And tried again. – And then, I finally divorced (yes, I fired) my client.

Like any other personal relationship, a good client relationship is built on mutual respect, and trust — and it has to work both ways. If your clients don’t respect you as an expert or as a person, they may undermine first your work but eventually they will hurt their own prospects.

Yes, it’s subjective. While everyone has his or her own definition for reasonable and unreasonable behavior, we all run across clients (or bosses) who simply think they know better even though they hired you for your expertise in the first place. Perhaps they question, second guess and revise your work beyond all recognition. Or, while they don’t listen to your input and advice in the first place, they then expect you to fix everything after things go wrong.

There’s no amount of money that makes a toxic relationship worth pursuing. Mutual respect is the cornerstone and foundation of any connection. So what if your client/boss has loose morality or treats people poorly? You coach, mentor, advise and yet you hit the wall of denial.

Men with Pens’ James Chartrand, in 11 Tips on How to End a Client Relationship, advises, “Be calm. Never be hostile, attack a client, or write a flaming goodbye. Be understanding. You’re splitting up for you, so be sympathetic that ending a relationship is no easier for the client.”

Ultimately, the decision to break a relationship with a client is not an easy one to make. It shouldn’t be a quick decision nor should it be based on isolated incidents. But, if the above problems are recurring and you can handle the temporary loss in revenue, you shouldn’t be afraid to let go of these toxic relationships to make room for clients that will help your company grow in the long run.

Like Anna Holmes said when she was asked about what made her successful: “Speak your mind. Be a pain in the ass when necessary. Believe that your voice has value. Indulge yours and others’ curiosity.”

So… Get up…Go away…Leave the stage… After all, to make room for more impactful, productive and satisfying engagements, you have to be willing to let go of the ones that are holding you back.

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