5 tips to deal with a client who thinks they’re your boss

Deal with a client who thinks they're your boss

5 tips to deal with a client who thinks they’re your boss

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When you work for yourself, you’ll gain clients. I’ve had to deal with a client who things they’re my boss, and here’s how I’ve handled it.

When you start your own business, you’ll be excited. You have control over your schedule, and you’ll get to say just how much work you take on. There’s a better chance of a work-life balance.

However, there are times that clients forget that they’re clients. Just recently, I had to drop a client because she thought she was my boss. It was toxic, and it was bad. To be honest, the way she talked to people she thought she was the boss of was terrible—and I’m assuming she still talks to people like that because most people don’t see a problem with themselves.

It can be difficult to deal with a client who thinks they’re your boss. You may not necessarily be able to drop them just yet. Here are my top five tips for dealing with such a client.

Set boundaries to deal with a client

You need to set boundaries with any client that you have. These boundaries are even more important when it comes to a client who believes they’re a boss instead of a client.

Set your working times*. Make it clear that you are not available at the drop of a hat. The only time you should jump in is if you’ve forgotten to do something—then the mistake is on you, and your client rightfully needs you to fix the problem.

If a client isn’t respectful of your boundary, you need to keep making that boundary clear. There’s nothing wrong with saying “no.”

Ignore messages outside of your working hours

I don’t answer messages from clients outside of my working hours. That is unless I’ve agreed to do some extra work for them, or if I have forgotten something.

This client would message at all sorts of times. I would leave the messages marked as unread—they were always through Facebook Messenger, so I could pull down my notifications to see what it was and then make the choice to ignore until I was back at my desk.

Clients don’t get to demand your time. To be honest, neither do bosses. There’s nothing wrong with making it clear what your boundaries are.

MORE: 5 signs it’s time to go full-time with your side hustle

Discuss the problem to deal with a client

If it becomes a big problem, you could have a conversation with your client. Talk to them about expectations and what they are doing.

You could make it clear that you are not an employee. Make it clear that you are a freelancer for hire. They are not your boss. While they have expectations, so do you. You are both on the same level when it comes to the working relationship.

Be upfront about the type of relationship that you expect to have. You can also explain the way you don’t expect to be talked to. A client doesn’t get to talk down on you.

Give it time to change

A client isn’t going to change overnight. Some of them won’t even think that there’s a problem with the way they act. They think that they are your boss. It is going to take time for them to realize that’s not the case.

If you don’t want to or can’t lose the client just yet, you need to give them time to change. This will require sticking to the boundaries. You may even need to have some of the same conversations over and over again. This can be tedious and annoying. Remain professional and polite.

While you do this, I highly recommend finding new clients. These clients who think they’re your boss are probably just going to get worse. Or they may find someone else they can talk down to.

Replace the client

Finally, it’s the only thing that you can do. When you deal with a client who thinks they’re your boss, there is only one way to handle it: drop the client.

This was my only issue the more and more I had a client belittle me and act like she was my superior. The more toxic she got, the more I looked for work elsewhere. The more I found other clients who understood the client-freelancer relationship.

There is nothing wrong with handling a PITA client* by firing them. The question is whether you want to explain why you’re doing it or not. I did. I told her straight, but I wasn’t afraid of burning bridges.

MORE: Why you won’t succeed as a WAHM

Are you struggling with PITA clients? Share the problems you have and let me see if I can help you.

Alexandria Ingham is a professional writer. She predominately ghost-writes in various niches, including fitness, finance and technology Everything is fully researched and well-written. Under her own name, she writes in the technology, business, history and weight loss niches

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