Posted by: LYF | July 12, 2009

“I hate people”…how to deal with difficult clients

It sucks, because audits are designed in such a way, that whenever there’s a conflict one person is always right and the other always wrong.  There is no collective bargaining.  On most audits, when problems come up, it’s rare that you’ll reach a solution that’s agreeable to everyone.  And it’s unfortunate, because this can stall your file, eat up time and push you over budget.  Unlike CRA workers, who I can yell at and hang up on without too much consequence, audit clients need to be coddled.

I thought about it for a while – how to deal with difficult clients.  I needed some type of solution other than hating people because it’s way too exhausting.  With some client’s this can be very hard.  And if I’ve had a few cups of coffee, on a particularly difficult day, it takes a lot of effort not to blow up on certain bookkeepers, who manage to mess up opening retained earnings for the 4th year in a row.

It’s hard.  I asked one of my partners what to do.  He told me it was more about feelings than finding a solution.  “They’re just pissed because they know they’re wrong and they don’t want to be.  Or worse, they don’t understand what you’re saying and they feel stupid.”  “Well that’s not my fault.”  “I know, but if you throw that in their face, it’s going to make the situation worse.  Let them cool off a bit.  Talk to them for a while.  Find out why they’re really mad.  Get to know these people.  Ask how their day is going.  See what they did on the weekend.  That sort of stuff.  It’ll humanize the process a bit.”

That really helps.  Let people vent.  If someone blows up at you, it may not be your fault.  Ask them about it.  They’ll appreciate the opportunity to get those problems off their chest.  Find out what their favorite food is.  And when you have a meeting, suggest a restaurant that serves it.  Little things like that help a lot.

So that’s the challenge.  Getting to know who you’re dealing with.  Not telling them why you’re right.  But showing some empathy.



  1. You got some very good advice there and articulated things that bounce around in my head but don’t always get expressed as succinctly. Well played. 🙂

  2. Thanks!

  3. LMFAO at this: “I needed some type of solution other than hating people because it’s way too exhausting.”

    I am totally with you on that one…

    Great post as always, LYF!


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