When you have mastered these tips, you will eventually realize that focusing on the solution and resolving it fast will be the best way to deal with clients.

Bluprint Correspondent Ar. Rey John Lorca, with more than a decade of professional practice in architecture, talks about the ethics on handling challenging situations and some lessons on how to avoid and deal with difficult clients.

How to deal with difficult clients
Photo by Ed Simon

1Prepare well before the meeting. By preparation, I mean not only for design presentations, but as well as mental and emotional preparation. As soon as you have finished and have ensured that your presentation is complete and properly rehearsed, condition your mind before sleeping that everything will go as planned. Anticipate possible questions and concerns that your client may raise and be prepared for a smart response and solution.

2Present yourself well and dress up properly to make your client feel that he/she chose the right architect to do the job. Dressing up is not just to impress the client. It is about showing respect to clients. Dressing up well for your client meetings means you respect your client and gives them an impression that you mean business. Only when you have reached the levels of Frank Lloyd Wright or Zaha Hadid can you afford not to dress up well in meeting with clients. Remember, when dressing up well during client meetings, we do not only represent ourselves but our profession as well.

3. Profile and get to know your clients well. It is important to learn the psychology of profiling people in our professional practice. It pays to know how to profile your client. Be keen with the details on how your client dresses up, how they communicate, observe their body language, and study their personality type.

4Understand your client’s needs, interests, and taste. After profiling your client, focus on deliberately understanding your client’s needs, interest, and taste. Having this knowledge will help you deal with them more efficiently.

Remember that all issues can be resolved diplomatically. At the end of the day, remember that your client hired you to help them successfully execute the project. Hence, your client expects that you are there to support and give them guidance as the expert.

5.Explain the Design process. Making your client understand the design process will ensure that you are both aligned. Explain the process in layman’s terms and avoid being technical, especially when your client is non-technical. Your client will appreciate that you show efforts to educate and share your knowledge. This gives your client the impression that you are competent and knows what you are doing.

6Explain your responsibilities and deliverables. Make sure that you clearly explain to your client your scope of work, limitations, your responsibilities and deliverables as his architect. Doing this will avoid possible conflict as your client will understand the extent of your role and responsibilities as the architect. Should your client request some works beyond your scope, let your client know by communicating it properly and offer options and solution.

7Set proper expectations on deadlines and ensure all deadlines are met. This is especially important as this measures your competency and integrity. In case there will be delays, communicate it early with your client before the deadline and explain everything properly. Present the actions taken by your team and that you have exerted all measures from your end to avoid it. Always remember that proper communication is one of the keys to a successful client-consultant relationship.

8 Explain the role of your client and their responsibilities. This is also one of the important elements in dealing with clients. Before starting the project, make sure that your client also understands his/her role and responsibilities. This will make your client feel that he/she is part of the process, and you will be working closely as a team to ensure that the project will be successful.

Remember never to argue or debate with your client regardless whether your client may seem to be unreasonable. Understand where they are coming from. Maybe your client just needs some explanation or enlightenment. Maybe your client just needs you to give updates regularly.  Or maybe all that the situation needs is reassurance. Remember that it is your responsibility as the architect to gain and maintain the trust of your client.

9Regularly report and update your client on the work progress. This will give your client a sense of security. Do not wait for your client to ask for updates on your work progress and accomplishments. By proactively initiate giving updates to your client, they will feel more confident that you are doing your job well.

10. Finally, let your client know that you are hired to protect their interest and ensure that you will deliver an excellent job. Giving your client this assurance will make them feel that you are a loyal consultant and your job apart from delivering an excellent job is to protect them and their investment.

Be in Authority to Remind that you are in control of the project with all honesty and integrity. Once you lose your client’s trust, it will be very challenging and difficult to regain that. Thus, work with transparency and communicate with confidence. Present and report your work progress professionally to show your client that you are serious and passionate about your job. When you have mastered these tips, you will eventually realize that focusing on the solution and resolving it fast will be the best way to deal with difficult clients. By then, the struggle to deal with difficult clients will become a thing of the past.

Notes About the Writer
Rey John is an Architect, Environmental Planner and Real Estate Professional Managing Lorcatecture Corporation as President and CEO.

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