blogging gobbledygook and such

Sweating the Small Stuff

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. πŸ˜†

Comments on: "Sweating the Small Stuff" (7)

  1. ah……..well i think i am both argumentative and pick up battles till i win πŸ˜›
    that might the reason i dare to speak my mind , obviously against the crowd which in my case is just like a flock of sheep.
    well for me my principles come first and if in any case i have to compromise on it than you better watch out for the worst side of me
    i think you need not be anxious , its your colleagues who take additional time for completion of work than let them face the brunt of the boss
    i guess its easier said than done but try it πŸ˜›
    maybe it will work. plus why should you take undue stress because of them??

    sulz: i get into those moods sometimes in school, and believe me that’s the best sort of place to be that – during class, that is. πŸ™‚ teachers like students who speak up, after all!

    well, the bosses are too busy to check up on them so it’s the clients i have to face. so far, they’ve been quite understanding, thankfully.

  2. i guess this client of yours is in a habit of making a mountain out of a mole
    better ignore his criticisms . i guess such people can never be satisfied with what you do , reason being he blames you for the mistakes he commits
    how unprofessional !

    sulz: it’s not easy to ignore it especially when i have to hear it out! i consciously try not to rise to the bait, though. well, apparently i’m the unprofessional one in his eyes because i don’t know a lot of things that i’m supposed to know but i don’t because communication between us is terrible. he tells me one thing ages ago and expects me to remember until today. what else can i say? 😐

  3. Wow. He sounds like a really irritating person.

    I think some people have the attitude that if they’re paying for something, it should be perfect. But that’s no excuse to be a colossal jerk about it. And blaming other people for his own mistakes makes it sound like he has problems accepting responsibility for his actions.

    Maybe you should try to be polite and put up with him for the time being, and hope that you won’t have to put up with people like him in future.

    sulz: irritating is not the word to me, more like head-banging exasperation!

    you hit the nail right on the head! that’s exactly how he sees it. he doesn’t see it as his mistake because as you said, he thinks that because he’s the client that i should be dealing with every single thing, including what should be his part.

    he really tests my patience and so far i’m following his lead – to be curt and bordering on impoliteness, but never quite being outright rude. in fact, i try to minimise communication with him for my stress levels. the other day he told my boss that i barely communicate with him through phone, which is his preferred method (i e-mail most of the time). err, ever wonder why?

  4. I have worked with such people, and you know what main problem is here:

    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 β€˜thinking’ for the creation of the project.

    I have worked with such clients, you can correct typo/editing part but what can you do with the client who himself doesnt know what he wants. No, this is not small stuff, I know how you feel. And only way is to be thick-skinned and patient and not let such people get to you. πŸ™‚

    sulz: well, we are supposed to come up with the creative part of the project. we’re not expecting him to think up the creative part. it would be good if he could give an idea of what he’s looking for, but he doesn’t express himself well, so we end up frustrating each other a lot because he tells us we’re not giving him what he wants and we can’t give him what he wants because we don’t know what exactly he wants. πŸ˜•

    sigh, i hope i don’t spoil my teeth from all the gritting i predict i will be doing! πŸ˜†

  5. nobody is perfect and your client and you yourself aint too. obviously, since you are nes then it will take some time to learn the tricks of the job. learning is a gradual process .
    ah dont succumb to the bait πŸ˜›
    i know it must be so tempting but its you who will have to face the consequences
    so handle him smartly πŸ˜†

    sulz: maybe this will end quicker than i think!

  6. Sulz:If he could work with me like there’s nothing stuffed up his butt, things would be so much pleasanter and smoother.

    I have realized that 1 in every 3 clients have something stuck up their butts by principle! I once had a client who wanted us to fire someone coz he pronounced the word ‘the’ : “thee”.
    Tough luck my friend, ride the tide!

    sulz: hahahah! your client is nuts!

    sigh, i know! this post is to tide me over, i suppose! πŸ˜†

  7. Foolish clients are always dangerous. The only thing which might come out of this is that you will end up hurting yourself. So, try to be as much patient as you can and ask him a lot of questions. The more clear things are in the initial phase, the better. Otherwise, it will be an unforgettable nightmare in the end. Believe me, I have been there. πŸ™‚

    sulz: oh, i’ve been burnt, believe me! my mantra is, “stay calm while he throws a fit. that way you look like the sane one.”

    my other clients are usually clear in instructions and are always nice to me whenever i ask questions to clarify or confirm. with this one, communicating is a real pain and i try to minimise communication as a result of that, in order to avoid possible arguments. which is not good of course because a lot of things stay uncommunicated on my part. 😐 i’ll figure out how to get about this better.

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