A Guide to Surviving the Client from Hell and the Wimpy Manager

angry fist of paperYou have a horrible client from hell who is not only unreasonably demanding, but rude and dismissive as well. Your manager, believing that this client’s business is very important, does nothing. If it was your company you’d fire the client, but it’s not your company.  You know from past experience that your boss will never do anything to help the situation. Sure, once in a while she tells you she knows how awful it is, but the situation never changes. Getting up the nerve for you to say something to the client would be pretty much impossible. But even it were possible it would probably result in a reprimand in your personnel file, a demotion  or getting fired — and you need this job.

What do you do?

  1. Stop fighting it. You’re not going to change the client or your boss, so stop resisting and wishing it were different.  Accept what you cannot change in this moment.
  2. Stop talking to your colleagues about how awful this client is and how ineffectual your manager is. By now, everyone knows it and spending your time talking about it won’t change anything nor will it ultimately make you feel better.  The more time you talk about it the more of your life the situation has stolen.
  3. Develop a standard approach to follow when things get bad. Take some deep breaths. Take a five-minute walk – outside if you can. Make yourself a cup of tea. Look at photos of people you love. Spend of minute reading or watching something funny. As strange as this may sound, stand up tall, feet shoulder-width apart, hands on your hips and a big smile on your face.  Stand that way for two minutes (in a bathroom stall if you must). Studies show that adopting this posture literally changes your physical body chemistry to make your more resilient and in control.
  4. Remember that this is a job; it’s not your life.  Sure, it would be great if every job was a place for ultimate fulfillment, but that’s just not always the case.  Sometimes a job is simply what you do to make the money you need to live the rest of your life.  There are lots of gurus who will tell you that you CAN have the job of your dreams, and I believe that, too. But right now you don’t have that job. So right now you need to figure out how to cope.
  5. Think about how awful it must be to BE that horrid client. It’s unlikely he is any kinder with his co-workers or employees.  Maybe not even with his own family.  At least you don’t have to live with him. When you walk out the door you leave it all behind unlike the client and the manager.  They have to live with the behavior they choose.
  6. On that note, you also have to live with the behavior you choose.  Make decisions that will make you feel good about the choices you make about how you react. You’ll be glad you refrained from flying off the handle, pouting or getting passive aggressive.
  7. Stop letting anyone else wreck your day. Your feelings are in your control. It’s challenging to overcome the feelings of anger and frustration but with resolve and practice, you can do it!

The kicker about this entire situation is that by management choosing to do nothing, the loss of productivity and ultimately profitability is astronomical. But doing something about it takes courage, maturity, communication skills and self-control – qualities not present in every manager.  Of course those skills can be taught to said manager, but that doesn’t help you in the moment that your head or your gut is about to explode from frustration.

As long as there is business to be done there are going to be very tough interpersonal situations to handle.  But by harnessing your own power to be less negatively affected by the challenges, you take back control…and your life.