Rude and aggressive clients?

“Most clients and people in general I come across are just rude and aggressive.”

That is a statement I saw on an accounting website, posted by an accountant. I am surprised by the comment. Is everyone rude these days? Are they just rude to this accountant? What has he done (or not done) to deserve it? Has he got the wrong clients?

In my previous piece I mentioned a rather rude ex-client. I know it takes all sorts, but if I do not have a good relationship with a client, and feel comfortable working with her or him, I ask the client to go. Of course I find a good reason. “I know another business which would suit your type of work better.” “The profile of my business has changed and we cannot any longer offer you the service you deserve.” “I would need to double your fee”.

All these can end an unsatisfactory business relationship fairly amicably. Certainly I see no reason to put up with uncomfortable communication and rudeness. Why would anyone? You don’t, do you?

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Shooting the messenger

I had a client “sack” me last week. He did not have the grace to tell me in person. Actually he telephoned to check my email address, which he had used many times, and when I asked after him, he said that he had someone with him and could not talk. Two minutes later I had an email telling me my services were no longer required.

Having been in business for a fair time, I have quite a thick skin as far as rude and graceless behaviour is concerned. I did not know the client was unhappy with me, and I always courage feedback by talking. In this case, the client had got himself into a financial mess tax-wise, I was the one who told him he needed to find some money fast, and I assume he blamed me for this, rather than himself.

I would not be good at business if I did not try to make sure my clients are happy, but some will not talk back.

Have you been blamed by a customer for their own failures?

Do you have a tax issue I can help you with? Get in touch and I will guide you.

Disrespect – what you do not want from your colleagues and network

My last blog in this thread contained the word “respect” in the title. I did not plan to follow it up with one about disrespect (incidentally a word which can only be a noun, and not a verb, in my view) but something has happened to prompt me to write it.

I belong to an international network of business advisers, and we have regional monthly meetings for those who wish to turn up. It is useful networking at a nice country pub and we also have speakers, internal and external to update us on various topics which amount to good CPD.

At the most recent meeting we had a guest speaker, who happens to be a friend of mine through networking elsewhere and who is a thoroughly nice guy. He was speaking on a particular discipline which is a major issue in business, and he has a radical alternative and refreshing approach. I will not expand on the discipline; that is not the point of this piece and I do not want the players to be too easily identified.

Anyway our guest, I stress “guest”, gave a very enjoyable and interesting talk for about three quarters of an hour and received impressively lengthy applause at the end. Our group is not usually quite so evidently appreciative, so this was significant. He then took some questions, and the chairman of the meeting started to thank him when a newcomer to our group professing to practice the same discipline, whom none of us had met before the day, started to tear into the premise of our guest’s talk with a ten minute talk of his own. He derided the common sense approach of our guest and said that rules and regulations were there to be followed (I do not think our speaker said they were to be disregarded) but the premise of his long critical statement was that our guest was wrong in almost everything he said, and that the best approach was a by-rote following of the rules; that in itself is material for another blog.

Our guest came back and comfortably rebutted the critic’s arguments. As a professional speaker also, he can look after himself, but I was severely embarrassed at the turn of events, and I know that many other members of the group there were as well. Our speaker had given up his time to speak to us – we were not paying him. I also believe it is disrespectful to criticise a speaker too much whether you know the person or not. One might ask for amplification or clarification of a certain point, but if one really does not agree then it is best to bite one’s tongue and keep quiet, and perhaps try to get a date to address the same audience at another time.

Before the meeting we had welcomed the newcomer whilst some of us were enjoying our pub lunch. Presumably the new guy would like to work with us and be involved in members’ contracts or projects. I would rate his chances of getting future work from or through those present at nil. He had alienated the entire group, and of course people do not forget.

If we are to get on in business or indeed enjoy a full social life, it behoves us not to go round upsetting people. I have many friends with whose views on various subjects I would disagree, but there is no point in going there. It is better to enjoy their pleasant company and work with them if in a business environment. This is obvious to the un-blinkered networking community and to most in our society. This rude troublemaker was the equivalent of an online troll.

© Jon Stow 2009

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