We all run into difficult clients, co-workers and children. Have you gone to your local library or Barnes & Nobles? The amount of help books involving parenting and client-relations is astronomical. I think the literary community needs to throw in the towel and combine both.
Clients and babies… what is the difference, really? Luckily, one usually cleans up after themselves a bit better. One usually thanks you with hugs and nose kisses. And occasionally one provides you with additional funds based on good work. I’ll let you pick which is which, but I will say, if your baby is giving you money, please let me in on that.
Chose your words carefully.
Underpromise, and most importantly: don’t make promises off the cuff. Remember that last time you told your son on a Monday that you would totally make chocolate chip pancakes on Saturday because you thought he’d forget? Or you told a client that developing a website that changed colors based on the user’s mood was totally plausible (that is actually a cool idea and I may want to copyright it)? Then that day comes around and you get the ole “eggs… AGAIN!?” and the “What do you mean? You distinctly stated that it was possible for us to identify our users’ auras!”
Even if you have to take a long pause, do it. How could we react to these situations better? Well, first off, unless you’re from the future I have *no idea* why’d you promise your client such a thing. But, if a client of mine did ask for something so absurd, I’d say “Well, technology doesn’t allow for that, but perhaps a new color scheme will load each time the user visits the page?”
And for not making pancakes… you soulless person… JUST MAKE PANCAKES! Do you know how good those things are? And if you’re out, go to a diner. Thank you! Also please invite me over because I love breakfast.
Acknowledge what the issue is, but don’t necessarily agree with them.
Acknowledging the issue is important, but standing your ground is, too. It can also be very tricky as it isn’t always easy to keep your true feelings to yourself. Most people feel comfort in being validated; that the other party empathizes with them. Many times this can solve the issue at hand on its own. Letting your baby or client know that you understand what the problem is and how they must feel about it is just as important as solving it.
“You must be upset you can’t watch another 3 hours of Tumbleleaf.”
”I understand you are upset because you had thought this project would be completed yesterday, but according to our approved timeline, it isn’t until next week.”
Isn’t this like, one of the top 5… okay, the WORST thing to say to anyone? Well, don’t get even more upset with me when I tell you YOU have to say it to YOURSELF. I need to take my own advice, I can not lie. I mean, who has room to stay calm? It’s hard!
Sometimes we have bad days–all of us, even the princesses of the world. Life is hard and when you are working for yourself, you can’t really take a day off all the time (shit, it doesn’t matter if you work for yourself or work at an agency, company or anywhere in between, sometimes you just can not take a mental health day.)
And with kids? Yeh, unfortunately there are no personal days in the Having a Kid HR Handbook (what’s up with that, anyway?) When you are dealing with a youngin’, the best advice I ever heard was to put them in a safe place (crib, playpen, etc.) and walk away for a little bit. Cool down, maybe put on some Joan Jett and rock out in the mirror for a minute, remembering that you are fucking awesome, your kid is fucking awesome (usually), and life has its bumps once in awhile.
Tips? Grin and bear it, even if it’s through clenched teeth. And NO NAME CALLING. That’s hard, but that’s saved for your internal monologue and/or your partner over dinner that afternoon/when the kids are asleep. My advice is simply to count to five (on the inside, unless the count to five method works in getting your kids to pony up and stop acting a’fool.) With a client this may mean touching base with them later, gathering your notes and getting a level head before discussing any new or pending projects.
Also, don’t beat yourself up. We all have tough days. Scheduling some “me time” helps loads. Fit some in! You deserve it!
Ye Olde “I needed it yesterday!” and “I need a pony NOW!”
Be straightforward. It’s not possible. First off, there is no such thing as a time machine. We don’t even have actual hoverboards and those were promised to us YEARS ago (Back to the Future, you liar!) Depending on why your client is saying to you will determine your response. Are they saying it because *you* are late on a deadline? Why are you running behind? Was it due to scope creep or because of your own scheduling snafu? Being honest helps best in this situation.
“We can go visit a farm with ponies soon. Let’s look up some local farms and make a whole day of it soon!”
“There have been some personal issues I have been dealing with, so my apologies. You will receive XYZ by tomorrow EOD. I know you understand these things occasionally come up. Thank you!”
Assume they are doing their best, just like you!
We are all trying to work toward the common good, in general. Your toddler is literally (and I mean l i t e r a l l y) learning how to live, move, function. That is HARD work! Imagining moving throughout your day and BAM! You see a new color. BAM! You smell something you’ve never smelled before. BAM! You see a new step that you have never stepped over before. That is intense, exhilarating shit. It may put a bump into your day, but your lil’ baby is just trying to learn. That’s cool as hell. Respect it!
Clients aren’t REALLY trying to ruin your day either–I promise. It could be hard some days, especially when something is taking a lawnmower through your life, but in all honesty: they just want to keep their business going. Meet their KPIs, their ROIs, get paid and pay out some bonuses to well-deserved employees. Aren’t we all in it for the same thing? Their company is their baby as your baby and company are to you.
Newsflash: No one is out there to get you. Sometimes it can feel REALLY hard when your toddler has decided to empty out all of your kitchen cabinets, your cat pulls all of the toilet paper off of the roll and shreds it around the house, and the central AC broke… all in a matter of 20 minutes before your train leaves for work. But we are all moving toward the greater good; whether it be holding down the fort at a business and making sure its represented well or learning how to tie our shoes on our own.
What tips do you have when handling difficult things in your life? Let us know below!
If you still need to find some POM (peace of mind, not the drink though delicious!) check out the start of our new series, Guided Meditation for Parents. It may help, one way or another.