• Joan Frank

It’s okay to say no: letting go of difficult clients

Sometimes, working relationships just aren’t working. The partnership with a new client that started out with such excitement and promise becomes less of a joy and more of a buzz kill. Maybe it is time to let them go!


After 26 years in business, I fired my first client! I did it in a very professional way and let me tell you it was an incredibly empowering experience. Early in my career, I had a few clients that were just not a good fit, but I was afraid to let them go because I really needed the money. What I have come to learn is that no client is worth the frustration or aggravation if you are not a good fit. I am a true believer that when one door closes a better one opens and that is exactly what happened to me. I know we all need to pay our bills but hanging on when things aren’t going well does not help either of you and in fact, can cause far more harm than good as frustrations and tensions rise.


How can you tell the difference between an untenable relationship and one that is simply challenging? Take your own temperature on this question. Is it keeping you up at night? Do you dread their calls and emails? Do you find that nothing you do meets their ever-changing expectations? Are they ignoring your advice yet still assigning blame? These are all signs that this relationship may not be worth saving.


Consider the cost to your mental health and the value of your time. Trust that your time is valuable! When I finally pulled the trigger and got rid of this client, a business coach I work with pointed out that my decision came from a mindset of abundance, not scarcity. Not only did that resonate with me but they were right!


And, as it happened, when I did end the contract, a bigger client signed with me two days later. There are great clients out there who need your help and your expertise and who will value you for sharing it. Use your time to help people who want to be helped and who will benefit the most from your skills and talents. They will appreciate you as much as you appreciate them.


In the meantime, remember saying “no or goodbye” is just a way of opening new doors that scream “yes.”

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