Once in a while a client flat doesn’t like what you’ve written. I’m not talking about requests for minor tweaks and corrections, that’s all part of the game. No, I’m talking about those rare times when a client informs you they don’t like your efforts at all.
It’s hard to hear that a clien’t doesn’t like what you’ve written. It feels personal, and like you’ve made some sort of horrid mistake. If the client is angry, the news of his discontent may be accompanied by threats of non-payment and the loss of future work. In other words all the ingredients necessary to turn your day sour indeed.
Time for a couple of deep breaths
When you get word that the client doesn’t like what you’ve written, take a deep breath or two. Tempting as it is to react, do your best not to. Here are a series of thoughts and steps that will help:
- Yes, something has gone awry. But you don’t really know what yet.
- Slow down. Listen carefully to what the client is saying.
- Remind yourself it isn’t personal – even if you don’t quite believe that.
- Get a sense of what, if anything the client is proposing as a solution.
- Ask your client for specifics on what went wrong. After all, you can’t read his mind. He’s unhappy. Sometimes just asking some questions indicating you’re not fighting him will begin to calm the waters. See if you can’t get him (and yes, I’m using ‘him’ today for some reason) to point out the exact wording that’s wrong or misleading or whatever.
- Take lots of notes.
- Determine if the client wants a total rewrite. Chances are the answer will be yes. Ask the client to email you a summary of what he said was wrong and ask for 24 hours to think about how you can fix it.
- Decide if you want to do the extra work – probably for no additional pay. It is your choice. If you don’t, you will earn nothing, but sometimes projects that go wrong are better dropped than continued.
Fortunately, having situation where a client doesn’t like what you’ve written probably won’t happen often. Know that you’re not alone.
Have you ever had this happen to you? What did you do?
Write well and often,