Some clients are unrealistic most of the time. They don’t take into account the facts on the ground, or they habitually refer to their past experiences with other building companies.
When you work on one of these jobs, you can feel like you’re being set up to fail. You may have relevant experience that counters the validity of your clients directions, yet there can still be a lot of pressure to comply with every demand.
Instead of just caving in try these approaches to gain better balance for yourself and strengthen your relationship with a demanding client.
Manage your physical responses
If the pressure of your clients demands has put you into fight-flight-freeze mode, first calm yourself so you can gather your thoughts and take measured, appropriate action. One of the best ways to quiet your agitation and escape what’s called the “defense cascade” is through grounding interventions which bring the overly reactive mind back to the body. Using a simple anchoring practice will calm the body and signal to your brain that you’re not actually in immediate physical danger. An unobtrusive technique is to just press your feet against the floor, noticing your heels and toes in contact with the hard surface, reminding yourself to exhale fully and to inhale again, and then to think about what you want to say or do.
Agree in principle then share realistic details
It may not always feel like it, but you and your client theoretically have a joint mission and some common goals, and showing that you’re on the same page may give you the leeway to explain some of the practical realities.
Ask them what is the most important thing
It’s unlikely that your client plans to be unrealistic or unfair. It’s much more likely that they have a rationale that they haven’t conveyed clearly, or may not even recognize themselves. Rather than just thinking “This is ridiculous!” keep checking to be sure you understand and are delivering on what your client actually wants.
Build rapport with your client
Assess your clients style and approach to determine if you’ll get a better response by behaving proactively or reactively.
And as frustrating as it can be to work for an unrealistic client, your goal should be to satisfy them as much as possible while maintaining your sanity and self-respect.