Q7: When is it alright to be rude?

By , November 27, 2009

Answer to #7 of 12 Questions I think are important for commercial writers to know. I think these questions are especially important for people newly striking out on their own.

Never. That’s the answer, period. There are times when you can really be pressed to maintain your composure. But understanding and appreciating the nuances of the situation can help you greatly.

Recognize the Implications of Making Changes

  • Clients can present you with detailed or simple changes in the middle of your project. These changes can throw you off your whole schedule. Remember that a delay for you is ultimately a delay for your client. Rarely do clients sabotage themselves.
  • Consider that your client may not know your job and what’s involved. And with that, they may not understand what all goes into “small” or “quick” changes. Explain in detail what’s involved, and encourage clients to give you all the details at once.
  • If requested changes push back your completion date, be sure to explain to your client. Just remember to always be polite.

Give Clients the Benefit of the Doubt

Your clients aren’t difficult necessarily. It’s the circumstances around the project that may put them on edge. Consider that people generally don’t pay for things that are unimportant. They’ve probably got you working an important piece for their company, and they just want to get it right. Usually, that’s what behind changes, not done frivolously or just to tweak your nerves.

What’s Your Problem?

Your work is impacted by your personal business to some extent as well. They can affect your feelings and by relation your interactions with others. Be mindful of your stresses and concerns.

Benefits of Patience

It really doesn’t matter what size business you work with; it all comes down to people. These people have job duties and personal responsibilities that impact their composure, just like you. Remember these things and remain composed for your clients. It makes work go more smoothly than releasing bad tempers and harsh words.

Bad tempers and angry words are a breeding ground for misunderstanding. I don’t know why it works that way but I find that people seem to turn off and are disinclined to be creative thinkers for coming to solutions.

Also, you likely won’t get fired for being calm; whereas bad tempers and rudeness can cost you jobs.

Your clients will appreciate it even if they don’t say it at the time. And more importantly, they will remember it down the line, when they consider you for other important work. You can consider being polite an investment in your future.


One last thing: Polite doesn’t mean wimp. Handle your business, work with your client. And when you find you can’t work with them, you may have to fire them, but be polite.

Can you think of times when you wish you’d been polite? Don’t you hate when you get angry aloud only to find out that you misunderstood something? Or, do you know of an instance when you would sacrifice being polite?

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