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How to negotiate with clients and come out a winner

Bad clients can break your spirit, your productivity, and your confidence. So, what is a professional to do?

A client and sales person shaking hands

A few years ago, I wrote an article about a video I watched from Mike Monteiro about the frustration of not getting paid by clients as a freelancer.

The video, aptly titled, “F**k you, pay me,” speaks to the heart of the matter many real estate folks, freelancers, and entrepreneurs encounter on a regular basis: you’ve completed all the hard work the client asked you to do and now it comes time for them to hold up their end of the agreement and pay you; only they don’t. You’re left angry, befuddled, and wondering how you can prevent this from happening again. Even with the best system in place, there’s always a client who will find a loophole. So, what is a professional to do?

Take yourself seriously

I’ll tell you what you do. You stop putting yourself last. You stop treating your profession like a hobby. You stop blaming clients, systems, and other things for all that confusion and frustration. You take a step back and ask yourself, “what can I do next time to prevent this from happening?”

Monteiro suggests finding, hiring, and relying upon a legal expert to create a legally binding document that holds you and your clients to the standards that come with running a business. If they delay the process by not providing information in a timely manner, you should have a clause for that. If you delay the process for any reason, there should be a clause for that. There should be a clause for every eventuality.

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It’s hard to plan for everything, but your framework should be solid; okay, it should be virtually impenetrable. This keeps “bad clients” from being an everyday annoyance, to a once-in-a-while hassle.

Not a reflection of you

Bad clients can break your spirit, your productivity, and your confidence. There are always going to be people who will undervalue you and underappreciate you. Don’t believe them. You’ve made it this far; you have to be doing something right. When someone gets breaks through your contract, your confidence, or your perseverance, it is not a testament to your shortcomings. It is a testament to your capabilities.

Once you’ve stepped back, reassessed, rewritten, and picked yourself up, you know you will prevent the next bad client from getting through in the same way, no matter which line they’ve broken through. If nothing else, bad clients are a learning experience; each one teaches us something about ourselves and our business.

Remember:  “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it” -Charles Swindoll.

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Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.


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