Dealing With Difficult People: Safeguards And Intuition — "Making The Mistakes So You Don't Have To."
Many times during business, we are faced with difficult situations in which we must figure out our way around; whether it be addressing an issue, receiving a payment, or managing a client. As this sort of work can become quite tedious and ultimately a headache in the long run for the average business owner, here are a few tips and tricks to help mitigate any potential situations while conducting your own business arrangements in the future:
*Note: all identifiers have been omitted to protect the individuals involved.
1) Trust your instincts.
As with all things in life, it is important to first gauge from a neutral perspective what it is you are truly feeling. Often times, first impressions and genuine-intuition will guide you rightly on your path. In this example, the client possessed a relatively strong tie to someone within my close-circle; thus, my intuition of not trusting this person due to their shady-demeanour was overruled by duty and obligation. [MISTAKE #1]
2) Always do your due diligence.
In this case, due diligence was established by first providing all necessary information to the client for them to make a sound decision on whether or not they wished to proceed with the project. Here, I had thoroughly written out and broken down all of the costs associated with the project for their review.
Once a connection had been established, I then sent them an invoice to confirm.
The client disregarded any mention of the prior email [WARNING SIGN #1] in favour of quickly pressing forward for the work to be completed [WARNING SIGN #2]; thereby creating an assumed acknowledgement for the arrangement.
Again, as this individual was within a close-circle, I once more ignored my intuition in favour of “trust” and began work before receiving any payment. [MISTAKE #2] In a better scenario, it would have been more prudent of me to ask for at least half of the payment up front before proceeding with the job. [MISTAKE #3] A standard rule disregarded in this case due to presumed trust.
3) Always safeguard yourself.
Even when trust is presumed, it is always important to place yourself in a position of power in order to help safeguard yourself in case of future misconduct or misunderstanding. In this scenario, I had established myself as an admin to the project, allowing myself access to all avenues of maintenance for the project’s development. [SAFEGUARD #1]
4) Get everything in writing.
When you begin to sense foul play,
it’s always important to get everything in writing.
Unfortunately, the client did not wish to respond via text or e-mail, knowing full well the advantages of being able to “mince-words” or “shift perception” reverting everything back to a “he said-she said” disagreement, voiding any potential legal claims. Receiving — at best — voicemails from the client, it was imperative to continually press on further for some sort of written correspondence, allowing for a paper trail to be created in case the situation escalated. [SAFEGUARD #2]
5) Always remain cordial.
Emotion has no place in business. You are, after all, playing a game of wits. Emotions will only dig oneself deeper and deeper into a hole. Anyone who has ever sparred will know the importance of remaining calm in a difficult situation, despite all of one’s internal dialogues telling them not to. Remain calm, speak clear and concise, and always remain cordial. Speaking out of emotion will only allow for more points on the opposing side’s favour. Some may call this passive aggressive, but I call this "good business management."
6) Never go beyond the scope of the project.
Once the terms for reparation have been set,
it is always important to ensure that any punitive measures does not exceed the scope of the project. In this case, I had locked the client out of their own project, so as to not be kicked out, myself, [SAFEGUARD #3] and provided an adequate deadline before any punitive actions would be implemented. Granted, while sitting in a position of power, one may be tempted (out of emotion) to go much further than the scope of the project and provide greater damages as a means of reparation for misconduct, but that would have placed myself in the wrong; opposed to merely atoning for it. [SEE #5]
7) Cut your ties.
Everything said and done, it is always important to cut your ties where they lie. One does not need the extra headache-for-cash in these sort of situations. Thus, it is best to just leave sleeping dogs where they lie and cordially [SEE #5] disengage with the client. In this scenario, future relations were suggested by the client; however, once trust had been broken, it is quite difficult to work with anyone again — despite the promise of a freshly cut pay check!