When clients attack
Jul 01, 2007
Some folks are never really happy—they're tigers in the shadows waiting to pounce at the first whiff of weakness. These clients resort to sneaky, mean-spirited tactics to gain power over others. They reach into their toolbox of lies, theatrics, and selective memory to pit team members against each other with shifting sands of untruth.
These impossible clients destroy office decorum with ready, frequent use of a verbal bazooka: the accusation. And once we've been publicly accused of dropping a dog, failing to record an appointment time, or making a beloved cat sick, we're forced to defend ourselves—an action that makes us look guilty. We're eager to appease and quick to give away resources. They win again. These are full-time jerks who make their living off the good nature of others.
Why they pounce
There's a difference between authentic jerks and well-meaning people who care so deeply about their animals that their behavior turns beastly. Many of these folks are good-hearted, sweet, wonderful people elsewhere in their lives—the kind of people who wouldn't put up with the treatment they give us. They don't realize their actions are unreasonable. They're blinded by a higher calling: a fierce loyalty to those who can't speak for themselves.
Animals aren't small children. As children grow older, they can talk about the care they receive. Animals always await the pleasure of others, which brings out the mother bear reaction from otherwise reasonable folks.
Love is perhaps the most powerful force on earth, and it blinds some clients. While love is unlimited, resources aren't. There are only so many hours in a day, so many team members, so much patience, and so much goodwill.
Other clients act irrationally for reasons we can't see or understand. Almost all of our experiences with clients involve loss: preventing it, mitigating it, or reversing it. And grief is the spontaneous response to loss. Remember, grief isn't an event, it's a process. So grieving people are often confused, angry, sad, scared, in denial, or all of the above. They can be difficult to work with and hard to reach.