Letting Go of Bad Clients: Why Is It So Hard When It Feels So Good?
I just had a meltdown with bad client. I worked all weekend on web content to meet his deadline. I finally emerged on Sunday afternoon, satisfied with what I had written. I made a few notes and sent it off to my client and went to bed, confident that I was on the right track. Boy, was I wrong.
I jumped on my Monday morning call, and he began to tell me everything that was wrong, that I had completely missed the aesthetic and had ignored all of the material that he had written. When I explained that I used his material as background information to help me write compelling web content, he went apoplectic. This continued to go downhill at an alarming rate.
It reminds me of a big inning in baseball
Baseball fans know how this one goes—one horrible inning that’s never going to end. The pitcher gives up a run or two, then the bases are loaded and the next guy up hits a grand slam and there are no outs. All of a sudden, it’s looking like a very long afternoon. In the same way that these big innings never end, I didn’t think his tirade and this call were ever going to end.
Was there anything he liked—a very definitive “no”
Seven pages of copy and there wasn’t one thing he liked? Now that’s just plain bullshit. I’m a good writer, I’ve been doing this a long time and I know how to write good web content. I’d written snappy subtitles, created some good bullet points and tried to come up with some examples that would illustrate his expertise. Apparently I’d completely missed the boat.
We talked a bit about next steps, mumbling about how we were both going to think about this. He was inclined to just move on because of my callous disregard of his aesthetic. My instincts made me want to fix things. But I knew this was a very bad fit and I didn’t want to work with this guy. Intense, humorless and unforgiving.
It’s a bad fit; admit it and move on
I really had to desire to go back to the drawing board and try to please this guy. As soon as I admitted that to myself, it was like a huge load had lifted. I hate to lose and I’m not a quitter, but there are times when we are legitimately bad fits. Admit it and move on.