Help! I Hate My Client

No, no, not, me personally.

I’m referring instead to those oh-so-common frustrations we in the administrative support business have with certain kinds of clients.

You know what I’m talking about:

  • Clients who think you’re their employee and want to bark out orders at you.
  • Clients who think you’re not doing anything except sitting at the end of the phone line just waiting to jump at their latest self-created emergency.
  • Clients who think you should work at any hour of the day.
  • Clients who expect skill and competence, but for some reason think those things should only cost them $5 an hour.

Well, who are we to argue? The client is always right, don’t ya know.


Listen, we can complain about those things all day and night, and true, there just are some plain ol’ rotten clients out there. When they present themselves, get rid of them–quick.

But we can’t blame every bad experience working with a client on them alone. It’s important to take a good self-examination, and honestly assess what your role was in creating the dysfunctional relationship.

Doing so will point out what you’ve neglected to consciously institute in your business, and create a stronger foundation moving forward.

It’s all about managing expectations upfront.

If you have a client who is barking out orders at you and treating you like an employee instead of a business owner, examine how you are presenting yourself to prospects.

Are you submitting resumes and references, and going about the process as if you were trying to land a job? Are you allowing them to dictate the standards in your business?

If that’s the case, it doesn’t take much to see where they are getting that idea.

If your clients are demanding, but disrespectful about your rates, what have you done to command respect for your services? Are you commoditizing your services by placing the value on the line-item services instead of the overall value? When you explain the value of what you do, are you overly focusing on the individual tasks and services, or the overall value of having an admin expert to assist them in their business over the long-haul?

And speaking of rates, are you charging appropriately? What message (perceived value) is your rate conveying? Does it say “smart business cookie and competent, skilled professional worth her salt who will help me in my business” or “pushover who I can take advantage of and abuse?”

If you have clients calling you at all hours of the day and night, what have you done to disabuse them of that notion? Did you let them know your business operating hours when you began working together? What boundaries and policies for working with clients have you set for yourself and your business? How did you convey those things to clients?

Remember, we teach clients how to treat us. (Hint: doormats are never respected.)

Make sure you are teaching yours that you are an independent professional running a business with something of value to offer, and that the success of that business—and equally important, your ability to serve them well—is dependant upon running that business in a business-like way.

You will both be all the happier for it, too.

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