If you’re a medical doctor, you have to developer truly stellar bedside manner. If you’re a sales representative, you must learn to interface well with any and all customers, if you’re intending to keep the business afloat. In a similar manner, as a graphic designer you have a responsibility to know how to deal well with clients, no matter how much of a pain in the derriere they turn out to be. We know how hard this can be, trust us: We can’t count the number of times we’ve depended on a client’s money, but could hardly stand to deal with their steady complaints and condescending manner. However, there are steps you can take to improve your relationships with your clients. Starting with:

  1. Never Fear Never: First and foremost, don’t be afraid to say the word no. We know that might sound harsh, but if you tell a client upfront that you’d rather not take on a project yourself, you avoid a mountain of headaches later on, when you really know you don’t want a project. Don’t waste your clients’ time, nor yours for that matter, by saying yes to areas you’d rather not have on your schedule. Learn to say no to an opportunity, and you may find your clients start to respect you more for it.
  2. Have Solid Workflow: There’s nothing we distaste more than a client who just can’t get their stuff together. They email us back late, they never give us the materials we need, and their payment schedules are questionable at best. However, this is a train that goes both ways: If you’re workflow and project management solutions are sloppy and subject to frequent change, you may be aggravating the dickens out of your clients. With this in mind, be sure your methods are rock-solid by always answering emails properly, constantly providing clients with actual deadlines, and—this should be obvious—actually meeting your milestones as they’re assigned. In other words, the more professional your methodology is, the more secure your clients will feel with you.
  3. Know What Feedback to Use: And finally, simply understanding the difference between good and bad feedback can save you a lot of negativity in any client relationship. Your client has a lot of sway in the design process, but keep in mind that not every critique you receive may be the best possible feedback. Don’t be afraid to use suggestions given by other designers, or the art department at your client’s HQ. Disregard less-than professional opinions, and be sure you can always back up a design decision with written copy.