How to Deal With Non-Cooperative clients

Robert Terson

About a month ago I had a great conversation with one of the most outstanding individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting via social media—Felix P. Nater, CSC. Felix’s company is Nater Associates, LTD. They offer professional advice on how best to be proactive in the fight against crimes in the workplace and multi-layered security threats; how to adopt a holistic approach to protecting and managing your staff; and how to hire a qualified security assessor. You can connect with Felix at his website or LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter.

Felix asked my advice re how to deal with a client who wasn’t cooperating, was making the process of serving the client unnecessarily difficult. He’s the kind of man who wants to give his clients the very best service he possibly can, and the frustration in his voice was palpable. The client was paying good money for Felix’s expertise and was actually throwing up roadblocks to receiving that expertise. Their lack of cooperation was causing a classic lose-lose, instead of the win-win they were paying for and were entitled to.

So I did some roleplaying with Felix, telling him word for word what I would say in a situation like that, and to whom I would say it—the CEO of the company, if at all possible, or the decision maker who contracted for the service, if the CEO is not available. It went something like this:

“(Name of the CEO), I wanted to reach out to you because, frankly, I’m frustrated that your company isn’t receiving the AAA-service you hired me to deliver. I’ve tried and tried, but, for whatever the reason, I’m not getting the full cooperation I need to do my job for (Name of Company). You’re paying me to give you the very best I have in me, but unless I can get the answers to the vitally important questions that must be asked, I’m going to remain frustrated and you’re going to continue to waste your money. That’s a classic lose-lose and that’s not how I do business.

“I’m asking you to help me out here, so I can properly do my job and serve you in the topnotch manner you deserve. I need to be able to ask my questions and get the unabashed, unvarnished answers to those questions. If you’ll take the necessary steps to make that happen, we’re both going to be happy, we’re both going to win. If it can’t be done, I want you to be upfront with me about it, so I can sever our relationship in the most positive way possible, which will save you a lot of money you’re now wasting and give me the peace of mind I need, because I never accept a client’s money without providing them the AAA-service I demand from myself; I never do a job unless I can do that job well, at 100% of my capabilities.

“So, can I count on your full support, (Name of CEO)?”

If a client refuses to cooperate, it’s time to challenge that client. Then, if the client won’t take the necessary steps to fix the broken situation, it’s time to stand up for yourself and fire the client. It’s as simple as that. Don’t take a client’s money, if they won’t allow you to do your job properly. You don’t want that on your record! It’s not worth the money they’re paying you, to say nothing about the frustration you’re feeling. If it’s time to say goodbye, say goodbye, as positively as you can.


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