5 Tips for Handling a Difficult Client

 In VA Work Tips and Best Practices

Face it. Over the course of your career as a virtual assistant or as part of a remote staff, you will undoubtedly come across a ‘difficult’ client.

A client might be tough to handle due to many things. Perhaps they expect you to finish a full day’s worth of work within three hours. Maybe they keep on bombarding you with various new tasks even though you already have a lot on your plate. It could even be because they’re often unsure about what they want you to do and they end up complaining about your work because it doesn’t suit their vague criteria. No matter what the reason is, it’s imperative for you to handle everything in a mature and professional manner.

If your client is testing your patience, you need to be able to deal with the stress effectively and without putting a strain on your relationship. Here are 5 helpful tips on handling a difficult client.


  • Never respond to negative feedback without thinking it through.


It’s normal for anyone to respond in a heated or defensive manner the moment they feel like they’re being accused or unfairly criticized. To avoid responding in a way you might regret, always take a few minutes to think things through.

Examine whether they are giving you fair criticism or if their comments are baseless. If it’s the previous, take the criticism and improve your work accordingly. If it’s the latter, explain your side of the story without being too defensive. Draft a response and have a colleague or friend read it through so you’ll have an unbiased opinion on how professional your response is.


  • Always think of solutions.


Most of the time, clients become difficult because they want something solved. You have to be resourceful enough to give them solutions or at least alternatives to their desired scenario. If what they’re asking for isn’t at all possible, explain to them in a way that’s easy for them to understand. Let them know why it can’t be done and what you propose to do instead. Lay down the pros and cons of your alternatives. Giving them options instead of simply saying, “sorry, it’s not possible” will always be easier for them to accept.


  • Anticipate their needs.


The moment you start working for a new client, study their behavior patterns. This is important because you want to be able to anticipate potential requests and think of a way to handle the way they dish out tasks. Clients expect their VAs to be flexible and to adjust to the way they work; not the other way around. You need to be one step ahead of them so you always have solutions to offer. Be proactive at work as well. They will appreciate an issue being resolved before it even caught their attention.


  • Be accountable.


Nobody wants a person who puts the blame on other people, situations, or whatever else whenever they make a mistake. When you submit something, it should be the type of work you’d be proud to put your name to. If there are errors on it, apologize and make sure they don’t happen again.

Remember, ‘difficult’ clients aren’t necessarily horrible clients. Sometimes, it’s just them reacting to the pressure of managing their business and then having something in the background go wrong. As virtual assistants, it’s our job to help them smooth things out and keep the stress to a minimum.

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