How To Deal With A Difficult Client or Situation
Have you found yourself in a situation where someone insults you or annoys you? Or, is it suggesting something that makes you want to retaliate??
I have my hand up here!!!
It might be a client who keeps asking for revision after revision, or a gallery who wants you to reduce the cost of your art. In this blog, I want to share some advice when dealing with conflict and difficult people/situations.
In fact, I have started using this with my children and friends! It’s a super powerful strategy for minimising conflict.
When we get involved with other people, whether it’s selling or just a general relationship, communication is key in all aspects. If this is lacking, this is when complications and frustration can creep in.
My first tip would be to be super clear and transparent. It can sometimes feel that you are stating the obvious and you can feel a little condescending but by keeping things crystal clear, especially when it is related to your artwork and selling it, can really help. Be assertive but be nice with it.
This step is a really important one. By doing this you can avoid any complications and confronting situations, just by having really clear boundaries and making sure you’re clear in all communications. Check in with people and ask:
- Do you understand the next steps and what is happening?
- Are you happy?
- Do you have any questions?
You want to talk to them and communicate. For example, there is nothing worse than taking on a commission with a gallery and then just going quiet. You are behind the scenes and are busy working but in the back of your mind you keep thinking, ‘I don’t really know if they are happy and they don’t really know where I am up too’.
It’s also okay to go to the gallery and say, ‘I am stuck. I don’t understand this bit and could do with a little advice.’ By keeping your communication clear with them, you are alleviating any uncertainties and frustration.
Learning how to find the words to communicate clearly will be one of the most effective things you will do.
If you get any kind of conflict, a situation where you don’t know how to handle it, here is some framework to help. A friend of mine taught me this not that long ago and it’s stuck with me and is so powerful.
So if someone’s angry with you or angry with a situation, the first thing that often happens to us is we get defensive and usually retaliate. But, when you’re dealing with this kind of conflict, the first thing that you need to do is emphasise and sympathise. So as much as you are angry with this person because they’ve offended you and they’ve hurt you in some way by saying you’re not doing a very good job, or your service is rubbish or your art is crap, whatever it is, take a deep breath and step back. Do not reply when you’re feeling emotional, walk away, write it down if you have to. Simmer down. This is the bit that’s powerful and very, very brave for someone to do.
Kill them with kindness and actually, if you take a minute to just think about it from their point of view and show them some empathy and sympathy, even if you don’t feel it, that’s the best way to tackle any conflict that could be simmering.
The best thing to do is to put yourself in their shoes, take yourself out of the equation. And quite a lot of the time it just takes that.
Apologies if needed and hold your hand up. Then come up with a solution and just be really nice, still showing your empathy to their situation.
Doing this is so liberating! It helps to protect your mindset and energy as you aren’t letting yourself get frustrated. You are letting it go and that is the best feeling.
Just keep in mind that you can’t always help everyone but by finding empathy you can do it in a nice kind way. Be professional, calm and kind.
P.S. For those who are members of United ArtSpace and access the Hub, we have lessons that expand on this.
How to manage the client process is an amazing resource with step-by-step help with managing client expectations.
If you’re in the Hub, search ‘client process’.
If you are not a Hub member, click here to learn more and join the waitlist as we have incredible resources to help you along your journey: https://members.unitedartspace.org