How to Deal with Difficult Clients

Dealing with difficult clients is a lot like dealing with an in-law you don’t like. They drive you crazy, but you know you have to be nice to them. When they do call, it’s always at the most inconvenient times. You then feel you can’t get off of the phone fast enough because they usually go on forever.

They also both seem to take great pleasure in making your life hard. This isn’t what owning a business is about. You created your own business to have greater freedom and add more quality to your life. Why let a client take that freedom away and diminish the quality of your professional life? As business owner, you are in the business of managing the expectations of your clients.

You do this by determining the rules of engagement early on. Remember you teach the customer how to treat you. You also don’t work for them. You are there to work with them provided they understand and honor these boundaries. You’re a bit of a psychologist with a shovel when it comes to working with the client.

Below are three high maintenance client types. Under each we also show how you can work most effectively with that particular type.

1) The Worrier-This is the type that is basically a nice person. However, they are also prone to calling you every evening for a detailed analysis of project events over the previous day. Do this: What this really comes down to is trust. As owner you are always in the business of building more trust. The more trust you build, the less they call you during off hours wanting a constant analysis of everything done.

2) The Squeaky Wheel: This client believes the louder they whine, the more you’ll give them. They learned early on in life that by complaining they could always obtain more. They will find a way to complain about almost anything, no matter how good the job. Do this: Let this client know early on that you run a quality company that can afford to be selective of its clients. Deliver quality work based up on an upfront agreement. Let them know that you are not motivated by a lot of inappropriate interruptions.

3) The Indecisive Client- This client will change their mind many times a day about a project even after signing an agreement on what it would be. Do this: Document everything and have them sign every agreement when it’s first made. When they change their mind, let them know that this change order will also cost them more money. Working with difficult clients is as much of an art as creating beautiful landscapes. You always strive for improvement and you can never perfect your craft enough.

Contact us if you need help. Our coaching has proven effective with small, privately-held, and family-owned businesses. And, we offer a complimentary “Business Breakthrough Planning Session” to determine if coaching is right for you and your business.


Jonathan Goldhill, CEO/Head Coach of The Goldhill Group, provides coaching for growing companies.  Jonathan is a growth consultant, business owner, business coach, sales coach and marketing coach based in Los Angeles, CA that has been guiding mostly local, small, family-owned, privately-held and mid-market business owners, managers and sales professionals build better businesses since 1987. He can be reached at (818) 716-8826 or emailed at

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