It’s that time of the year again where I have to face the difficult client I once blogged about. This is my second time working with him, and it looks like I will be at war with him until we finish the project.
I’m not a confrontational or argumentative person by nature. Except with a certain family member, but that doesn’t count because we can argue one minute and talk like normal the next, as if we never fought. But when a person directly accuses me of being incompetent or unprofessional, that gets me riled up. Especially when the inconsequential things I overlooked or did not realise is simply on account that I was new on the job.
Being the most junior employee in the company right now, I learn how not to sweat the small stuff and pick my battles. I made a lot of mistakes, and continue to do so occasionally till now, so of course I cut my colleagues some slack when they mess up. For me, it’s not a problem because we can fix it and it’s not major. Sometimes, my colleagues take a long time to do their part before handing it to me. I used to get so anxious about that because I was afraid the clients would be annoyed for having what requests they want to take such a long time. Over time, I learnt how to relax about that and now I feel as if the colleagues don’t take as long as before to get their part done before handing it to me. Imagine if I chose to sweat this stuff and confronted the colleagues about it. I would’ve made things worse.
As for picking battles, my approach is simple: I don’t. That is, I don’t do battles. What’s the point of nitpicking on your colleagues’ habits that you may not agree with? I have to work with them, so I may as well make the experience as pleasant as possible. When I first started, I always feel so apologetic when the clients make inconvenient and sometimes unnecessary demands that require my colleagues to do extra work on their part. I feel bad because I couldn’t convince the client not to make so many changes. Over time, I learnt not to take it personally. I try to get the clients to do as few changes possible, but if I can’t then it’s not my fault. If they want to sulk in front of me, so be it. I’m not the one wanting the changes; I’m just the messenger.
So it really riles me up when this particular client points out every single little mistake I do and make it seem so catastrophic. Pointing out my mistakes is one thing, but doing it in a way that is belittling and condescending is another. All the other clients merely point out I missed out this typo or forgot to make a change they requested. They certainly don’t go around writing e-mails about how “upset” they are about my “reaction” to an issue they are blowing out of proportion. What really takes the cake is that he was at fault too for not providing me complete details for the tasks I needed to do for the project. And when I pointed that out, he said that it’s really my fault because I didn’t question him about the omission of those details. I am supposed to know everything and ask him about things that he may have missed out. In other words, I have to ‘babysit’ his part in the project.
I really try not to let him get me because I don’t want to get into trouble and I don’t want to make things less pleasant than it already is. E-mails, I can control my choice of words and take my time answering his barbs, but on the phone… there have been several occasions when I slammed the phone down because I was so fucking pissed at him. When that happens, fear jumps up to my chest and I would be afraid he would call my boss to complain about that. The next time we spoke on the phone, though, we both acted as if that near argument didn’t happen and were extra polite to each other. Until the next blow-up.
What I loathe about this client is that he picks on my mistakes so critically. He sweats the small stuff so much that something that is really very easily remedied is made as if it’s this big, unretractable mistake. He is also very critical of my colleagues’ part in the project. As I am the one dealing with him directly, I have to convey what he said to my colleagues so that they can make amendments to his satisfaction. The worst part about him is that he makes mistakes too, but apparently it becomes my mistake when he makes them because I’m supposed to know everything about the project and have to check with him if he misses out anything. Besides that, when he is displeased with the work we produce for the project, he is not helpful in telling us exactly what he wants. That’s because he has no idea what he wants himself, but he tells us that we should think of what he would like, instead of getting his feedback all the time because apparently in doing so, he’s doing all the ‘thinking’ for the creation of the project.
Gah, yes, I have a lot of frustrations about this client. He brings out the unprofessional side of me. Other clients annoy me sometimes, but they make up for it by being nice to me. At least they have courtesy. This one barely has any and only displays it when he knows he is totally in the wrong and can’t pin the blame on me.
I wish he wouldn’t sweat the small stuff. If he could work with me like there’s nothing stuffed up his butt, things would be so much pleasanter and smoother.
Seems like I’m sweating the small stuff now, moaning about him. 😆