Defusing Tough Clients Through Holiday

Defusing Tough Clients Through Holiday

Subscribe to Raney Day Talks
Available on:

Stress levels can be high through the holiday season. Add in a global pandemic, no traveling, cabin fever, zoom fatigue, and virtual schooling, tension is at an all-time high and can directly impact communications with our customers.

Now is the time we extend extra grace to those we work with! In this episode let’s chat on how to tackle conflicts that arise during this stressful time and how to defuse the situations productively!


Additional resources mentioned is this book, How Did My Family Get in My Office by one of our clients, Bonnie Artman Fox!  Grab a copy here


“Today i want to be better that i was yesterday.”

-- jennifer sakowski

Podcast Transcript

In this brand new episode of Raney Day Talks Podcast, I want to talk about how to defuse situations with tough clients. Take a listen.

Hey there, grab your cup coffee and let’s talk business. How to grow it, how to sustain it, and how to harness the wonderful worldwide web to do it, with me, your host, Jennifer Sakowski. Let’s get started.

Welcome to a brand new episode of Raney Day Talks Podcast. I’m your host, Jennifer Sakowski. And I’m so excited to talk to you today. Today, I want to talk about Christmas. Not necessarily Christmas specifically, but how the stress of Christmas tends to spill out to our customers and how we interact with them. Basically, I want to talk about how to handle tough clients through Christmas, in a pandemic, in 2020. #2020.

» Read more..

Let’s just paint a picture of what could happen. You are doing the work, wrapping up a project. You send out that final list of updates or whatever it may be. And maybe your customer is rude or haven’t gone MIA. I mean, you get it. You can think of a situation that, man, that was a tough situation to deal with a customer. Whether they were unhappy, whether there was a miscommunication between you and them and their needs getting met, or maybe being heard. But you’ve been there.

If you’ve been in business and dealt with other people, then you’ve had to have tough conversations. And if you haven’t, I would like for you to direct message me and tell me about it. Because being here with clients and helping other business owners, we’ve had tough conversations pop up. There’s been misunderstandings.

We’ve had to have tough conversations over billing. Did we do what we say we’re going to do? Why haven’t they got our email? There’s so many situations. And I think that gets amplified when it comes around the stress of holidays. That’s a no-brainer, right?

Well, let’s talk about a few ways that we can defuse the situation and have a productive conversation when conflict arises. And I can’t help it, but a shout out to Bonnie Artman Fox. Y’all, that was one of her clients, she’s been on the podcast. She is the queen of productive conflict. She’s the expert. And she literally wrote a book about it, How Did My Family Show Up At My Workplace? Y’all, I read it. I was blessed with an early copy. It was a page turner. Even when I didn’t think I would identify with the stories that she shared, I was right there in it. If you are struggling with conflict in your business, I encourage you, I’m going to drop the link to her book. But it got me thinking, especially with the holidays, of like, I want to share with you how we maneuver those situations.

Here, at Raney Day Design, we have certain principles that we call guiding principles, and it’s about how we handle certain situations. And how I’ve empowered my team to handle those communications, which is not an easy feat. When you’re hiring people, when you’re training your team to deal with customers, you have to empower them on how you would, but in their own way. And that’s a whole other conversation for another day. But for us in these guiding principles, there’s a few things that we do. When a situation arises and it’s clear that we have a client, maybe they’re just not a tough client, but maybe there might be some misplaced…

What am I trying to say? I don’t want to call them rude, because that’s not really the case. But there’s a situation. There’s a conflict that has arose in our support desk, or maybe it’s me on the phone. So this is the first thing that we do. Dear friend and boss, almost every time that a situation arises is because the individual that is having the problem, they need to be heard.

There’s a reason why they feel that way and why they’re coming to you with their problem or their frustration, and they need to be heard. The very first thing that I want to challenge you to do is to remove your emotions from the situation and just listen to them with an open mind and an open heart. Give them the room to tell you what their problem is, and what they’re experiencing and what they’re feeling. And so that’s the first thing.

I want you to just lay off your emotions, because I mean… I’m an emotional person. And I’m easily excited. And so I’ve had to practice this over and over again. The first thing, I want you just to lay off your emotions. You’re not going to take it personal. And I want you to listen.

Allow your customer to be heard, because that right there, that instance, that most of the time helps bring the issue down, bring the stress and the intensity down. The second thing is to acknowledge their frustration. And not in a way that you’re like, “Okay, I’m so sorry.” No. Really, truly think about what they’ve said and they’ve told you, and take the time to acknowledge specifically how they feel and what they’re bringing to the conversation, and to truly try to understand where they’re coming from.

You can’t do that if you don’t get over yourself first. I’m not trying to tell you that the customer is always right. I’m not even going there. I’m just telling you, boss, because if you’ve been around the space for any number of years, months, time, that you’ve heard me say, I don’t like titles. I’m just here to be a servant leader. And to be a servant leader, I believe that you have to… I’m not out here in front, I’m behind the people around me, and I’m walking with them. And when they need it, I’m behind them to push them forward. And how I do that to be a servant, you have to serve other people. You have to be willing to lay aside yourself and just meet them where they’re at. That’s the second thing.

The third is… So I circled between three and four. The third thing I would like for you to do is once you have acknowledged their frustration, then look for a solution that benefits both parties. Where’s the win-win? Where do you meet in the middle?

Because it’s not all about you, but sometimes there’s a misunderstanding. You have valid points in the situation that need to be made clear, but also you’re in a position to where you can meet your customer where they’re at, and that you can provide a solution that they’re being heard, they feel that you are hearing them and that you’re meeting them with your [inaudible 00:08:15]. So they feel supportive.

And most times that defuses the situation immediately. But then provide a solution. Don’t just say, “Okay. Well, I’ll figure it out and I’ll get back to you.” No. Don’t even respond that way. We like to acknowledge them. And then we turn around and we find the solution. We do not delay. Do not let it go on for days. No. If there’s a frustrated customer, I encourage you, don’t put it off, don’t set them aside, and don’t let them cool off. No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Don’t do that. Tackle it immediately. Tackle the situation immediately. Because if the roles were reversed, and you were on the call or on the other side of that email, wouldn’t you want the situation to be handled in a quickly matter, in a quick way?

You have to put yourself in their position. Sometimes we get to where it’s like, well, I’m not wrong. Or we’re on the defense. You’re not going to help anybody that way. You have to let down your guard just a little bit and allow them to be heard, meet them where they are, and then provide a solution that is right in the middle. Some of the guiding principles that we utilize along with that, and this would be the next point, is we kill it with kindness. Sometimes we have tough clients.

They don’t mean to come off in a very abrasive way. I don’t think that they come off… They mean for it to be received as hurtful or very short, but it is. That’s just how they are.

And so that’s okay, because we know that, and we’ve just learned to kill it with kindness. And so what does that mean? That means that we do our best to even if something is crashing and burning on a site, and a customer is freaking out, which they have every right to be. We are calm, we are collect and that we are pleasant in are responses. Because when we do that, there’s this…

I think what happens is that people feel comforted by that support and that pleasantness. So I encourage you anytime that… Especially in one of those tough situations where a client is legit ticked off and they’re coming at you. Do not react. Respond with kindness. Kill it with kindness.

A couple other points come to mind, is to be detailed. A lot of times we’ll go to our notes and our timeline. And if necessary, map it out. And so that way, when a customer, when you’re giving them all the details that you have to help provide a solution for them, or to verify that where we’ve gotten off track is that to give them all the details. We try to be very transparent.

That’s why we track all of our time, we put all of our notes into a Teamwork, a project software that we use here at RDD. But we try to give all the details that we need, and that is necessary for them to see where the miscommunication might’ve happened.

Those are just a few points that during this time, when people are stressed out and feelings may be pouring all over the place, I want challenge you to rise above reacting and start responding to your customers in a pleasant way without your ego getting in the way.

Because what happens when you’re able to turn that conflict into a productive situation, you end up having really great and loyal customers for a long time. That’s what matters. That you are helping them and you’re providing a service to them in an excellent manner, and in a way that they feel heard, they feel validated and that they know that you’ll go to bat for them when something comes up.

The best conversation that I’ve had from someone who I was even going to hire to help with our books. She said, “I would much rather have hard conversations first. So if there’s something that’s going on or that you need to talk to me about, or something comes up, I just want you to come right to me and let’s have hard conversations.” I love that she embraced that mindset. That she would much rather, instead of pushing things underneath the rug, that we tackle things head on. And so that’s what I want to encourage you and leave you with today, is that tackle those conversations head on.

Don’t try to brush them off or place them aside. But when something comes up, and there’s a conflict within your business and with a customer, is that you take these points from today and that you hit it head on. I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and happy holidays.

Thank you so much for listening to Raney Day Talks Podcasts. If you’ve found this helpful, please do us a favor and subscribe to our podcasts, follow us on YouTube, like and share this post. You can do that by just taking a screenshot and tagging us at #RaneyDayTalks. Thank you so much. And a huge shout out to Mark Levander Productions on helping put all of this together, so that way we can produce the awesome podcast. Find him at

Resources Mentioned

How Did My Family Get in My Office by one of our clients, Bonnie Artman Fox! Grab a copy here

Thank you to our Sponsor

A huge thank you to Mark Levander of Mark Levander Productions for sponsoring season one of Rainy Day Talks. It truly is because of Mark that we’re able to put these podcasts in our YouTube channel and a lot of our videos and load the animations together. So, if you’re interested in launching your own podcast or need work with photography or videography, please contact Mark through

» Read less

Thank You to Our Sponsor

A huge thank you to Mark Levander of Mark Levander Productions for sponsoring season one of Raney Day Talks. It truly is because of Mark that we’re able to put these podcasts in our YouTube channel and a lot of our videos and load the animations together. So, if you’re interested in launching your own podcast or need work with photography or videography, please contact Mark through