I had what I thought was plenty of time yesterday to get two projects completed or close to it. Alas, the best laid plans…
Another client project with an even tighter deadline came rolling in, so I had to drop things with longer deadlines to sort it out. Turns out the project ended up being delayed by the client, so the initial urgency disappeared as quickly as it came, but not before a few hours were chewed up.
Fellow writer and friend Kimberly Ben has a great post up over on Avid Writer about Dealing With Difficult Clients. In it, she tells writers to stop apologizing endlessly for the same issue. Give it a read – a good reminder of how to handle demanding souls.
Maybe it’s our nature as writers or maybe it’s something our mothers taught us about manners, but we tend to do a lot of apologizing. In personal settings, that’s a good practice. In business, however, maybe not so much.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t apologize if you make a mistake. It means you shouldn’t spend all of your time saying “I’m sorry” as a preface to everything else. Here’s when you should say you’re sorry:
When you forget it, botch it, or lose it.
Here are the times you should retrain yourself not to apologize:
When stating your rate. It’s never okay to say something like “I’m sorry, but my rate is double that.” Cut out the first three words of that sentence and start over.
When defending your rate. Which would you not argue: “I’m sorry, but I get that rate because I have the skills and experience to back it up.” or “I get that rate because I have the skills and experience to back it up.”?
When your client flips out. I’ve had a handful of clients go a little berserk due to either misunderstandings or personal issues of their own. To say “I’m sorry” when someone has just accused you of being a lousy writer, a liar, a cheat, or anything at all is to give them more fuel – they now believe you have something to be sorry about. In one case, a client gave me a verbal lashing because I wasn’t able to rewrite an article and do three interviews within his ridiculous two-hour time limit. When he started snapping about how unprofessional my work was, my response wasn’t “I’m sorry, but you didn’t give me enough time.” Instead, I said, “That’s because the time constraints were such that I couldn’t complete the job with my usual quality.”
When you’re not really sorry. If you know you’re not at fault, don’t accept blame. Simply say something akin to you’re not happy with the situation either and that you have a few suggestions to get things back on track. If the client has made it impossible for you to do your job correctly, the apology shouldn’t be coming from you. However, don’t demand one of the client. It doesn’t matter as you won’t be working with that one again.
When do you resist the urge to apologize?