— by Judy Rose

For anybody in business, especially a service business, you often walk a line between doing things your way (after all, it’s your business) and making your client happy (it’s her money). Most of the time, there’s no issue because you’ve both agreed on the specifics before you ever start. But on occasion, each of you may have a different interpretation that doesn’t surface until you’re well into the project.

When that happens, I believe disagreements are easier to resolve if you examine things from the other person’s point of view. We all have experience being the customer – step into those shoes. You may decide to acquiesce or choose to stand firm, but you can usually make a good decision by taking an unbiased look at the other side of the argument. Can you find a bit of reason in it? Can you see where the understanding may have gone wrong? If you think there is information the client doesn’t have that might change her point of view, take the time to explain – and do it with good will.

Some other things to consider: How much work is at stake? It is better to finish up and get out? Could the choice you make damage your image or reputation? Are you right, but stupid? And how does your decision make you feel about yourself?

The best solution is one in which you both can walk away satisfied. There are times when that’s impossible, when the other person’s demands are so unreasonable that you question her sincerity – times when you can’t say yes without doing yourself harm. No doubt, there are clients who will try to take advantage of you.

But when you can find an answer that works for both of you, there is much to be gained. Maybe a little more work and a little less money for you, but along with that, a good ending to the project, appreciation from the client, and perhaps more projects together down the road.

In the end, I think we all want our clients to be happy. We want to give fair value, and deliver high quality goods and services. Sometimes it’s a challenge, but it can be less so when we take a moment to stand in someone else’s shoes.

Judy RoseJudy Rose (NAWBO Blog Editor) writes original copy for marketing and PR, websites, blogs, newsletters, and other business materials. She also assists clients by polishing and adding vitality to existing text, and offers a unique strategic editing service called Writing Repair. Learn more about Judy’s blogging services.