Life Style

8 Ways to Deal With a Perfectionist Client

Perfectionists make great clients because they have an eye for detail and don’t settle for anything less than the best product or service. However, perfectionist tendencies can also make these clients more challenging to deal with. You may often feel like nothing’s good enough, even if you’re doing your best.

This doesn’t mean you should avoid working with perfectionists altogether; if they’re satisfied with your work, then you’re likely to see repeat business from them in the future. Here are some tips to help you handle perfectionist clients and gain their trust.

1. Build a Good Relationship

Creating a good working relationship with your client will not only make them less likely to be a perfectionist, but also improve the quality of your work. Try to see things from their end—what’s their idea of perfection, and make sure that you meet those standards. For example, if your client wants everything hyper-organized and neat, then do your best to follow their guidelines.

Your attitude before and after each meeting is also important. If you come in looking unhappy, your client will most likely notice. Try your best to start and end each conversation on a positive note. As American businessman and author Stephen Covey says, “Little kindness and courtesies are so important. In relationships, the little things are the big things.”

“Little kindness and courtesies are so important. In relationships, the little things are the big things.” – Stephen Covey

2. Repeat and Summarize Instructions

Repeating and summarizing instructions sends the message, “I’m listening, and your feedback is important.” Being an active listener will make your client more open to your suggestions. Repeating instructions will also lessen the likelihood of mistakes and misunderstandings. Here are some examples to put this into practice:

  • Repeat the instructions, and ask if they are correct: “The article should be 500 words long, right?”
  • Summarize the instructions, and ask if they are correct: “So we need an article about how this new product will change everything for our customers?”
  • 3. Take Notes

    Evernote screenshot

    Each instruction that you neglect, overlook, or forget costs your client time and possibly, money. This might be the reason why they have perfectionist tendencies. Taking notes will help you remember complex instructions and give you something to refer back to in case a client forgets what they said.

    Using a simple note-taking tool like sticky note will do, but you can also try the more advanced note-taking apps like Evernote or OneNote. If it’s hard to pick a note-taking app, read our guide on Evernote vs. OneNote.

    4. Organize Your Tasks

    Monday Workspace App Screenshot

    Getting organized will lessen errors and minimize any distractions. Try using project management tools that help you take note of deadlines and outline your projects. Chunking—or breaking down big projects into milestones—will also ensure that you give time to the important details of a project. Make sure that you schedule time blocks in your calendar to work on each task.

    Penbook is a paid app for Windows that you can use to brainstorm and organize your ideas using freehand writing. Trello helps you organize your tasks into Kanban project boards that you can share with clients for tracking. You can also try Monday, a simple project management tool that lets you track your tasks, create timelines, and collaborate with your client.

    5. Improve Your Communication Skills

    Remember the seven C’s in all of your communications: clear, correct, complete, concrete, concise, considerate, and courteous. It also pays to be honest and transparent about your work. If you’re not 100% sure about something, say so instead of trying to hide it or making up an answer. When problems arise, help your client feel less anxious by getting their insights and communicating confidently.

    Communication is one of the top soft skills in demand today. If you’d like to gain more competence in this area, the best LinkedIn learning courses to improve your communication skills will surely help.

    6. Give Consistent Updates

    One way to deal with a perfectionist client is to give them updates as often as possible without going into too much detail about the finer points of your process. This way, they’ll feel like they’re in control and involved without feeling overwhelmed by all the details.

    Remember to be proactive and stay in touch with your client. Use their preferred messaging tool when communicating. If they favor email, then use email. Suggest instant messaging apps like Skype or WhatsApp, so you can address any problem as soon as it happens and avoid any issues that might cause conflict later on.

    7. Suggest a Feedback System

    A feedback system gives your client an outlet for their frustrations and you an opportunity to improve your work before it’s too late. Feedback also provides a sense of accountability for both parties, ensuring that you’re aware of what needs to get done for the project’s success.

    In your project proposal and timeline, include touch points where you’ll meet with your client for feedback. Make the goal of the meetings clear, and have the schedule approved beforehand. You can also use a tool like Typeform, which offers a customizable client feedback form template.

    8. Give Up and Get Out

    I quit written on a post it note stuck to a keyboard

    Quitting is your last resort if all else fails. Sometimes, it’s better to give up on the project if it’s affecting your mental health or if you know for sure that you can’t deliver. If you cannot work with a perfectionist, try finding someone else who can. It’s the best thing you can do for yourself and your client. You should always try your best, but sometimes there are clients that are better left alone.

    When quitting, remember not to burn any bridges and provide referrals, if you can. Ending on a good note will give you a chance to get a good review from your client. Also, you never know. The unexpected can happen, and you might find yourself having to work with your perfectionist client again.

    Working With a Perfectionist Client Can Sometimes Be Worth It

    Weigh the pros and cons carefully if you’re going to continue working with your perfectionist client. Even though they’re demanding, they also push you to do your best. If you have the patience and character to deliver, you may gain a loyal client who will trust you with their business.

    Do you want to learn more about handling difficult people you work with? You might want to read about dealing with an arrogant client next.


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