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When Clients Attack

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Hosted by
Simon Lovell

Featured on Forbes.com and Entrepreneur, Simon Lovell coaches and mentors top CEOS, entrepreneurs, and leaders on emotional intelligence, fulfillment, and happiness so they can reach the next level of impact. He is author of The Black Ball: Does Anybody Else Have A Secret & the host of Unshakeable Leaders Podcast.

His loving but NO BS approach and super strong accountability in his signature 6-week program The Super High-Performance Formula has been called 'profound' and 'life-changing'.

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Situations happen out of the blue. You’re minding your own business and something can happen to put you in a tailspin to make you anxious. When that happens you need someone to be there to listen to you.

If you’re a coach or you’re in business it’s likely you’ll experience someone attacking you at some point.

People get frustrated and they blow up at you.

Everyone gets emotional and everyone handles situations differently. Something may have happened to you in the past and because of an event with a client, you find it difficult to move your business forward. 

I’ve had situations when I wasn’t emotionally strong. I looked at the situation in a certain way; it was devastating to me and it stopped my business growing. 

You may have already dealt with situations in your business that made you feel uncomfortable and you want to know why they happened? And as your business grows, more situations are going to come up. It’s important to know how you can deal with them differently. 

It’s Not About You

Everybody responds to situations differently. You could work with a client for a long period of time and then one thing triggers them; they start to act in a certain way and you’re completely blindsided by it. 

You take them on and you think they’re really kind, they start your program and suddenly they are angry, maybe even nasty and manipulative.

You wonder what’s going on?

Sometimes it’s not about you. It’s nothing to do with what you said and it’s got nothing to do with your program or process. They have other things happening in their life, they become triggered and it’s the final straw. You’re just in their firing line.

It’s like when you’re in a relationship and you’re blowing up about the toilet roll or the messy kitchen, it’s really nothing do with that. It’s about the issues that haven’t been expressed. 

Get Conversations Flowing

A client attacking is in direct relation to the things they feel, but they don’t talk about. That’s why it’s very important, especially when bringing clients that you make it clear you need to have authentic, transparent communication; that may be a new concept for some people.

Most of the time when you’re attacked it can come from nowhere. Being attacked can come as a complete surprise when nothing has been verbalized leading up to the attack. If issues were raised, but you didn’t deal with them maybe you do need to take responsibility.

It’s not fair for them to attack but it is fair for them to speak to you about it calmly. 

You have to hold strong boundaries when someone comes at you with negative energy, language, or actions. I know a lot of coaches and consultants avoid difficult conversations and they let things pass because of their attachment to money – you’ve signed the deal, and because the client is paying you you let things go.  

If you allow yourself to be attacked, it’s going to affect your relationship with your client and it’s going to affect your ability to want to help them. Your feelings about the situation will also affect your business and personal relationships.

Do you avoid difficult conversations? I love to dive into difficult conversations, especially when my clients want to avoid them. I hold my clients accountable in situations they feel uncomfortable in and typically avoid – people have a habit of bailing from situations they don’t want to be in when it’s difficult. 

People with opposing views can find it difficult to hold conversations without losing control. If you are good at keeping calm in difficult conversations you are the best teacher to those around you. The best way to teach is to lead by example. 

It’s ok for emotions to come up but it’s not ok for those emotions to be thrown at and directed at you. It’s disrespectful.

Let It Out

If someone verbally attacks me, I let them get everything out of their system, and I wait for that energy to dissolve. If I react with the same energy, it’s going to trigger their ego, and suddenly we’re in a fight. 

When you allow their energy to come out and it’s dissolved you can calmly ask if there’s anything else they want to share. Then allow anything else to come out.

They may express a lot of things they haven’t spoken about before. You will hear everything because there’s been a buildup and they need to let it out. You’ll hear everything they’ve been feeling and holding onto for months, maybe years. 

If someone continues to attack when you’ve been calm, take yourself out of the situation by telling them you’ll chat when you can both be calm and speak from your hearts.

If they continue to be aggressive with you, it’s time to end the conversation – when someone is that angry they won’t be able to receive anything you’re saying because they just want to get their point across.

Allow the energy to come out and let them express themselves. When they are calm you can enter a dialogue.

When you’ve gathered as much information as you can, you may want to go away and think about what’s been said. 

Thank them for sharing with you and let them know you need to sit with the information so that you can come back with a response. Give them a timeframe so they know when they’ll hear back from you. Make sure you return with a response.

When someone attacks via email they are more likely to say things they would never say to your face. I respond very simply, requesting a time to chat about the problem. Your response may be rejected or you’ll receive more abuse and you’ll then need to deal with that situation.

Protect Yourself

Sometimes people say crazy things that aren’t based on fact. They can say they didn’t receive something, but if you have the evidence they did (via a Facebook group) you have evidence via the logins in your software.

Having evidence you can present, and making sure you have contracts means you’re protecting yourself legally. 

Think about any situation you’ve had where a client has attacked you. What systems can you put in place so that you can protect yourself moving forward? It’s really important to do this in all of the different areas of your business.

I’m always improving the programs I have based on the feedback I receive. If someone attacks you then notice what they’re attacking you for and ask how you could have implemented something at the stage of onboarding, during the coaching process, or the consulting process, to avoid the problem happening again.

The day after someone blows up and attacks you they may be sorry and apologize to you.

They might want a chargeback or to fight further. They may even want to take the situation to court and it will feel unfair.

Let It Go

I really want to bring in the principle of letting go. If you choose to hold on to something for a long period of time, you have to start to think about how much that is costing you financially.

I spoke with a client about some money someone was trying to get from him. I asked how much he thought it had cost him by holding onto his frustrations about the situation?

Understand that the person demanding the money back does it from a place of survival because they are in a difficult place in their life. 

It’s very common for a client to demand money back when they don’t get the results they want because they haven’t taken action with the program they purchased. It’s low consciousness. People don’t like to take responsibility.

You want to protect your energy.

If you continue to fight and drag it on, it’s going to cost you far more than the cost of the actual thing that you’re actually dealing with.

I want to feel good because when I’m happy, I can manifest and create more. I’ll invite more people into an opportunity with me instead of being hyper-focused on one negative situation.

When your client attacks and all your conscious focus is on them it means all your subconscious energy is on them too. Anything that’s unresolved will subconsciously stay with you until it’s dealt with.

That’s why you need to have difficult conversations and resolve issues. You can do that through a single discussion or it might take multiple conversations. You may need to go through the legal system and that may force you into a situation that doesn’t feel good, but you have to detach your ego and decide to let it go.

If you are in a situation like that now, I would think about what is the cost of you continuing to hold onto the situation versus the gains you could make if you just let go of it?

I understand there are certain situations where you’re going to want to fight for something because your reputation is at stake; those are different situations to refund requests, clients not taking responsibility, or them issuing blaming for their non-action. 

People also can steal ideas, they can copycat. They go behind your back and they say certain things. And then they start to rally around a group of people to validate their lack of behavior. In these situations is you’re dealing with low levels of consciousness. 

Honor Your Standards

Lots of people don’t waste their time with that kind of negative energy. And there are certain people that do. Do you want to put yourself on their plane of consciousness or do you want to raise yours and raise the standard for them? 

Sometimes people don’t understand actions until later on. You can hold a boundary with someone and they won’t get it at that moment, but when they have the realization you’ll get a message thanking you. 

Always honor yourself. Do what you feel you need to do and don’t live in fear. Start letting clients go that don’t feel in alignment with you. You’re not just doing it for you, you’re also doing it to let that person grow and to allow that person to move on. 

Have honest conversations with yourself. Sometimes you will drop the ball or you will say the wrong thing. That’s a lesson in not being hard on yourself.

The industry of coaching, consulting, and mentoring people, is not easy and you won’t get it right all the time. You can get experience, but you also got to learn from that experience.

Some of my biggest lessons have come from my biggest screw-ups. 

When clients attack, it’s just energy that needs to come out and be dispersed. Ultimately someone wants to feel listened to and understood. You need to remind people, especially if you’re on coaching calls, that it’s important they fully express their feelings.

If you sense something with a client, that’s the time to address it. When you feel the funky energy, get in a conversation, and let them know you noticed it and ask them in a loving way how they are feeling? 

When you come from that kind, loving place, you will notice that magic starts to happen and you will resolve the things you thought you couldn’t.

If you want to have calm courageous conversations to take your business to the next level check out my Super High Performance Formula

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