Being an entrepreneur and running a business can feel like a rollercoaster. Ups and downs, but you learn throughout the entire process if you allow yourself to peek between your fingers as your hands cover your eyes! I found that the most successful business owners are good at dealing with people. They understand how to communicate with their clientele and make sure they’re satisfied with the provided service or product. This can be challenging for most entrepreneurs, considering you’re dealing with individuals’ different personalities and characteristics.
Want to know one of the worst kinds of clients to deal with? A narcissistic client! Throughout my entrepreneurial journey, I’ve dealt with a handful of clients who displayed these characteristics.
They were clients who contributed a lot of revenue to my marketing agency, so I didn’t want to cut them loose solely because they were hard to deal with So, how do you deal with this? I’ve compiled a list of x things that I recommend that you do when dealing with narcissistic clients.
1. Set Boundaries
When dealing with clients, most entrepreneurs, especially younger ones, attempt to avoid conflict like the plague. Because of this, they don’t address issues with clients in some cases and simply sweep it under the rug. However, if your client is displaying narcissistic characteristics and it’s ruining your work relationship, it’s best to attack this issue head on. Approach them and set boundaries on your business relationship.
I once dealt with a client who was a textbook narcissist. Whenever we would have meetings, most of the time this client would simply boast about things that weren’t relevant at all to the meeting. He expected me to drop any and everything my team and I were working on, just to cater to his every whim. Whenever situations would arise due to this client not working well with my team, the blame was always on us, never him. It became exhausting and we soon started to dread conversations with him.
We finally got to a point where I had to express to this client that his behavior was unfair and uncomfortable for my team. We established better communication habits and made sure that he understood we had his best interest at heart. Did he completely change for the better? Of course not, most narcissist won’t! But we made progress and were able to tolerate client meetings with him.
It all starts with setting boundaries.
“Ego is born of the need to ‘prove’ oneself instead of making the choice to ‘be’ oneself.” ― Craig D. Lounsbrough
2. Try a Different Approach
If communicating doesn’t work with your client, it’s time to try something new. Sometimes a conversation doesn’t have much effect on a person’s actions as you’d hoped or that it should have. What to do now that setting boundaries didn’t work or change the behavior?
One option for entrepreneurs who have support, is to bring in a friend or business associate who’s able to mesh with your client better and help to move them forward. This protects your tension level while also ensuring your relationship is rock solid with both parties. When your business grows and you bring in help in the form of contractors or managerial employees, it becomes easier to delegate tasks and assign clients to certain associates. You never know, they may be best fit to handle the job, more than you are able to, and for various good reasons.
3. End the Relationship
This should be the last resort when dealing with a narcissistic client. Why? Well, when it comes to business, I purposely place myself in uncomfortable situations. This is a habit I formed when I was first starting out to ensure I never stuck in my comfort zone. The most successful people in business know how to deal with people. Sadly, this even include the dreaded “Clients from Hell”. I would challenge everyone to find a different solution to problem, than avoiding it, which is why I have this option as the last resort.
If you can learn to figure out solutions for the most uncomfortable and bothersome situations in your business, you are training yourself to push past any obstacle in your way. This is how you become a winner in life! But, on the other end, one of the best things about being your own boss is that you can choose who you want to work with!
Overall, your business growth depends on how many people you touch, and when you learn how to help them solve their problems your success will be the ultimate, almost inevitable result.
In business, you never know what to expect. This is also inevitable, especially when dealing with people from different backgrounds. While some clients may be “better” than others, it’s important to know your limits and be aware of the kinds of clients you’re dealing with so that you can decide how best to approach them, or not. This will create prosperous business relationships, the best kind to have, which will pave your roadway to success.