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How To Deal With A Difficult Client

At least once over the course of a makeup artist’s career, you will find yourself face to face with a difficult client – they don’t know what they want, nothing you do pleases them, and they can leave you feeling emotionally and creatively drained.

Though dealing with a Debbie Downer can leave a sour taste in your mouth for the rest of the day, don’t let it sour you against future interactions. There are a few things you can do to save both of you from an embarrassing outcome, although sometimes knowing when to walk away is the best move you can make.

State the services you’re rendering – Regardless the client’s attitude when they get to their appointment, you should offer in advance an outline of the services you are about to provide so that both you and the client are clear on what is to be expected. Though it shouldn’t have to be said, the client sought you out because of your particular expertise, and though it may seem easier said than done, it’s important for you to try to remain as professional as possible in a non-professional situation.

Maintain your focus – It’s common for clients to feel so comfortable in the chair with a makeup artist or hair dresser that they open up about the things going on in their lives, even when those things may be negative. If you have established boundaries at the outset of your appointment or client/makeup artist relationship, you can rely on those when the client starts to talk to or treat you in a way that makes you uncomfortable. You can remind them in a polite but firm way that you are simply providing a service and that they are close to crossing the line.

Don’t take it personally – It’s hard not to feel like you’re being personally attacked but try to remind yourself not to internalize a client’s behaviour. They may be complaining about the work, but 9 times out of 10 they aren’t frustrated or angry with you but with something else entirely. Everyone has their good and bad days, try to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Ask them to leave – At a certain point, enough is enough. If you’ve established boundaries, firmly and calmly let the customer know that their behaviour is inappropriate, but they continue to cross the line and talk or behave in an abusive manner, they have to leave. You can give them two options – take a few moments to recollect themselves and continue on in a way that is respectful to both of you, or leave and find someone else to take care of the services they need.

Dismissing a client should be your last resort, once you’ve exhausted all other options. It’s never easy to confront a client who’s behaving in appropriately, but it’s important that you respect yourself in this situation. When working on a set, you shouldn’t try to confront the client alone and can and should involve the director or production manager. As a freelance artist, however, asking a client to leave is up to you. If they were referred by another client, without going into specific details you should let that person know what happened, and that this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated by future clientele.

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