So, you have a difficult client? Are you laboring over how you should handle them? Do you know what TYPE of difficult client you are dealing with?

The first thing you should realize is that it is not surprising for you to be in this position. Every business, in every industry, has been there at one time or another!

The good news is, if you do have a difficult client, that means that you have clients! Yay for you! The bad news is, depending on the type of “difficult” they are, you may or may not be able to appease them.

When encountering a difficult client, it can help to understand the psychology behind the client’s behavior. There are two types of difficult clients; acutely difficult and chronically difficult.

I am sure that most of us have become acutely difficult at one time or another, especially if we perceive something as being unfair. The acutely difficult client is the easier of the two types to deal with, as their behavior will normally be focused on a single occurrence. Once that issue has been rectified, life goes back to normal.

However, if you encounter a client who is chronically difficult, that is a ‘horse of a different color.” Chronically difficult people tend to be generally untrusting of others and have negative beliefs about them as well.

If you find yourself working with a chronically difficult client, here are a few tips. Keep in mind that there may be some clients, in this category, who will never be satisfied.


  • Many chronically difficult people run on autopilot. The best way to diffuse their emotional response is to use words that they are not used to hearing.
  • Do not take their negative comments personally.
  • Be positive and use upbeat phrases and words.
  • Try to use humor to defuse any attempt they may make to start an argument.
  • Ignore their sarcastic comments and behavior
  • Focus on the positive comments.

For the tips above to work effectively, you will need to get past any mental barriers you may have initially put up. If you know you have done your best and tried to solve any of the clients’ issues, then you may have to accept that in this particular client’s mind, nothing more can be done and whatever you do, please do not take it personally.

Here’s to hoping that you NEVER encounter a chronically difficult client; but if you do, it is a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence!

difficult clientKaren Kannegiesser is an online business resource assistant with over three decades of C-suite level executive administrative and supply chain expertise. She has many years as a strategic MRO buyer for a large specialty chemical manufacturer, as well as an extensive background in database management, project management, contract administration and business continuity/disaster recovery