As always, we've been working all along the way. It's much easier now that we are in the general time zone arena of most of our clients.
We were just reminded – by an almost sour client interaction – of the importance of always being mindful of the intention and vibe you are bringing to a situation.
In the case of this particular client, the writing wasn't on the wall. We're good at weeding out the kinds of clients that we don't want, so these things are usually avoidable. In this case, the client started to get strange (in the form of intense negativity) only after we started delving into the process of her project.
We suspect that, having to face the problems within her organization, she was overwhelmed by a feeling of hopelessness. Her "the glass is half full" mindset started to permeate our interactions. Unfortunately, such a thing is antithetical to positive change.
We knew that we couldn't buy into the framework of the discourse, but it's tough to be the bigger person – to not build upon a counterproductive vibe. We also knew, from previous experiences, that we didn't want to piss a client (that we don't want to loose) off. That being the case, there would be no explicit calling her out.
We leaned into corresponding in a way that raised the bar. We let her have her emotional rants, but we didn't buy in. We stayed focused on the goal of the project. Before we knew it, she had turned her attitude around without our ever having to explicitly and uncomfortably address it.
Oftentimes, we find the best way to combat something troublesome is to look inward and to focus on our own behavior. Try these three thing:
Look at you
What energy are you bringing to the situation? Smack down any patterns that may be fueling your client’s fire.
Don’t buy in. Period
By not participating in counterproductive behavior, you’ll often find that people will often talk themselves out of their own ridiculous patterns. Conversely, by buying in, you’ll usually find that the pattern of destruction only escalates.
Raise the bar
Oftentimes, it’s neither the best course of action nor appropriate to 'call out" a client – that can do more harm than good in the long term. First, try raising the bar. Have a vision for what ideal interactions look like, and model that behavior.
It's an incredible, clear day here in San Francisco, so we're off to enjoy the city. That includes hitting our favorite banh mi place in the world, despite having just come from Vietnam!