3 Killer Tips to Deal with Difficult Clients

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Have you ever had one of those clients where when you see their name pop up in an email or on a caller-id, your stomach sinks?

You’re filled with dread because you know it’s another complaint or threat or just generally unpleasant words. Unfortunately most of us have dealt with someone (or multiple someones) like this - so how do you deal?

1. Breathe and take a break before responding

This may seem like a throw away tip but no so fast. What’s your gut reaction when you hear or read something negative about the business you own or work for? Most of us get very defensive and with good cause! You know how much effort you put in and it pisses you off to hear that someone doesn’t see that and wants to nitpick (difficult clients are usually picking on minutiae).

Even if you are able to muster up a candid customer-service like response, it’s not going to come off like you truly care about their concerns when you’re angry. Breathe and then take a minute before responding.

2. Read between the lines

Believe it or not, people who become irate with us our our services or want to pick on tiny little details are actually upset about something else. No, they don’t really care that they found a ball of hair underneath your pilates machine or that the water cooler wasn’t refilled, often times people who make constant or very serious complaints just want to be heard. They want to feel listened to and cared about.

Maybe when they first came to you as a customer everything was fresh and new and they were cared for but now that they are a regular at your spot they don’t feel special anymore.

There is a TON of psychology studies about customer complaints and what we find is that it’s ALWAYS about something deeper. Whether it’s something going on elsewhere in their lives that’s causing stress and outbursts or they just want to feel cared about, remember this before taking their complaints to heart.

3. Turn them into raving fans

Now is the fun part - this is where we kill them with kindness. Ok, not literally (even though their complaint may have you considering it…) but it’s time to swallow your pride, remember it’s about something much bigger than what they’re complaining about and respond to them with genuine care and kindness.

Two things will happen - first almost 100% of the time they will feel bad and realize they were harsh and likely backtrack on what they said. People who make a scene are ready for a fight and expecting one to happen so when you don’t fight back but rather respond with kindness, it’s disarming.

Second they will feel exactly what they wanted to feel, which is special and cared for!

There are countless case studies on customers who were once irate becoming life-long customers and advocates of a brand after someone in charge took the time to really listen to them and show them care and kindness.


Don’t believe these tactics will work? Just try it. People are more alike than we’d like to think and this method will work 99% of the time.

It will actually even be a little fun and the stress and worry about difficult clients will melt away, WE PROMISE.