“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.”

Stephen Covey

Most “bad clients” can typically be traced to a compromise you, yourself, made. It’s time to stop blaming clients for our own mistakes.

Whether you’re a designer, developer, project manager, or all of the above — it’s important to have a set of standards that will not be compromised. This isn’t a pie-in-the-sky platitude or an idealistic dream—it’s tried-and-true wisdom that can transform working relationships.

Something I did—a compromise I made—informed the client, “This is how we will work together.” An unrealistic demand, given in to.  Giving away work at no charge.  Allowing scope to creep without consequence.  Giving away responsibility, when I should have stepped up.

Every decision we make has a consequence.  When we have wisdom in our standards, holding to those generates positive consequences.

When we compromise our standards, the boundaries of a relationship are redefined.  We make it more difficult for clients to have appropriate expectations. We implicitly tell them we cannot be trusted with responsibility.

There will always be people who are more difficult to work with. Clients who require more hand-holding or repetition—but if you find yourself repeatedly complaining of “bad clients” or “bad vendors”, the first place to point the finger is likely yourself.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Brand & Community at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2024 Stephen Boudreau.