It can be awkward navigating your way around telling someone that you don’t like something. But unlike telling your friend that the shirt they’re wearing is a little outdated, telling a client that they’re idea is either impossible or downright not a good idea. Some clients may feel that you are stepping on their toes or telling them what to do when you are too outright. Below are some tips on counseling a client around an inadvisable idea:
Stay informed about trends, mistakes, and successes: When your client comes to you with an idea or concept, being up-to-date on current events will help guide you and your client. This way, when your client comes to you with an idea that simply won’t work, you will be able to bring up a circumstance or example in which that idea ended up not working out.
Keep a neutral tone when rebutting and countering a client’s idea: Always keep your cool. First off, it’s completely unprofessional to raise your voice or scream at a client. Maintain a calm exterior, even if you are feeling on edge. A client, or anyone else, will be much more inclined to listen to you, when they know that you have listened and taken their words into account before voicing your disagreements.
Ask the client to play the scenario through: Role play them through their idea, and bring up any possible issues, while still maintaining a realistic scenario. Remember that this is their baby. Give your client the ability to take responsibility for their decisions rather than you taking over control.
If you really feel strongly, or there is an ethical lapse involved, bail out: If you strongly disagree with your client for either practical or moral reasons, do yourself and your client a favor and bow out. It wouldn’t be good for either of you if you just stayed with the client to stay with the client. As always, if you must part ways, be professional. Thank them for the opportunity and part amicably.
While you should be gentle when you are disputing a client’s idea, remember that above all, you must tell the truth. Skating by, manipulating your client your way will not only put you in bad relations with your client, but is also unethical and unwise.