This article comes from Entrepreneur.
A toxic client drags you (and your business) down. Yes, they’re a source of revenue, but they also bleed you dry of your much-needed energy. The energy you could be putting into attracting amazing clients who help propel you forward.
Toxic clients are never worth it. Do yourself a favor and say goodbye. Here’s how:
Everything starts with you. Start by taking an honest look at your own role in the relationship.
Is this a truly negative person, or is there something you need to change? Is there something you can do better? Are you bringing your very best self to this relationship?
Once you’ve taken this honest look and ruled yourself out as the source of the problem, consider these toxic behaviors:
They consistently disrespect your schedule and expect you to be available whenever they demand it. They keep adding to the terms of a project but expect you to stay within the original budget and timeline. They belittle or unfairly criticize your work (possibly in an attempt to get out of paying). They constantly dispute invoices or delay payments. They are aggressive or abusive in their communications. They use threats of bad reviews to coerce you into lowering their bill or going beyond the agreed project terms. They are overly picky and nothing is ever “good enough” for them. They disrespect your expertise and insist on telling how to do your job or how to do things “right.”
Here’s how to end the relationship.
You’re doing your best to build your dream business and someone has dragged you down. You will understandably have some powerful feelings about that! Do your best to keep those feelings out of the actual break up. Keep everything professional and stick to the facts, nothing else.
There is always the possibility that your client is unaware of their behavior. Unless they have been abusive, threatening or you otherwise see no possibility of continuing to work with them, make one final effort.
For example, if your client is constantly asking for more, remind them of the original project terms and show them a list of everything they’ve asked for beyond that. Tell them you’re willing to help with the extras, but give them a new estimate and timeline for the additional work. Perhaps they were simply unaware of the scope of all their add-ons!
No one likes getting fired. Even in a professional relationship, people take things personally. To soften the blow, avoid using the word “you” as often as possible. Instead of saying “you violated the terms of the contract,” try “the terms of the contract were not respected.”
No one knows what the future holds. Your client may be in a difficult situation themselves, which could improve down the road. Maybe they’re short on funding or overworked. If you think there could be any possibility of working together in the future, keep that possibility open with phrases like “perhaps down the road we may be able to work together again” or “if circumstances change, I would love the opportunity to collaborate again.”
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