When talking about freelancing, most people immediately think of easy work.
Over-exaggerated YouTube videos and Instagram lifestyle posts make it seem like freelancing is all about counting money while relaxing on a beach.
But, the truth is, things don’t always go according to plan.
Sometimes (or most of the time) clients come screaming at you with criticism or negative feedback.
Whether you’re a veteran freelancer or beginner, it’s always better to be prepared to work with such angry clients.
In this post, I’m sharing a few tips you can use to respond to negative feedback and criticism from clients.
Patience is something you must learn to master as a freelancer.
If you’re short-tempered or get offended easily, your chances of retaining clients and working with clients on long-term projects will be very low.
A good rule you can follow when responding to an angry client email is to take a short break.
If you’ve received an email from a client criticizing your work, asking for more changes, or rejecting your suggestions, don’t respond to it right away.
Let that email sit for a day and reply to it tomorrow.
It’s easy to get offended whenever someone offers negative feedback. In fact, it’s in our human nature. So if you respond instantly, it will be an emotional response.
When you take some time off to process the feedback you’ll begin to realize what went wrong. And find better words to respond to the client in a more calm manner.
Here’s a simple example email you can send to a client’s complaint:
I apologize for delivering this unfinished. After taking some time to analyze your feedback I’ve realized that there are some areas I could have improved. I will go through these changes and fix the issues ASAP.
I appreciate you for taking the time to review my work. As a thank you, I will do these improvements at no additional charge.
Step Into Your Client’s Shoes
Of course, as a freelancer, you’re always doing your best to deliver great work. But, sometimes it will seem like the clients don’t realize how hard you work.
If you feel this way, try to step into your client’s shoes and look at things from their perspective.
For example, a client who works with multiple freelancers will have to scan through a lot of files. This can sometimes cause anger and irritation. Especially when other freelancers perform poorly. And the client would unknowingly direct that anger and frustration towards you.
Also, remember that your client knows what they want (most of the time) and it’s your job to deliver your work to meet their expectations.
If your client is not satisfied with your work, try responding with a message like this:
I apologize if my work doesn’t meet your requirements. I gave your feedback some thought and found a few new ways to improve the project. I think doing X, Y, and Z would enhance this project immensely.
Please let me know what you think. Or, if you have any ideas on how to improve, I’m always open to suggestions.
Ask For Specifics
There are different kinds of clients out there. Some clients are more experienced and know exactly how they want a design or article to look like.
Most others, however, pretend to know everything. These clients will often send you complaints or negative feedback that doesn’t really make sense.
On such occasions, the best thing you can do is to ask for more details.
I’m sorry that you’re not satisfied with my work. I’m not quite clear about the feedback you’ve provided. Could you share more specifics and explain how exactly you would suggests me to improve the project?
This method actually works great for disarming angry clients as well. Because sometimes clients get angry without realizing why they’re angry.
And when you ask for details they will think twice about what they were asking and realize they were angry for no reason.
Be Mindful & Stay Professional
Last, but not least, always stay professional no matter how terrible the client is.
The client might lose their temper but you’re the professional. You should always be more mindful of how you respond to criticism and rejection.
If a client gives you negative feedback even when you haven’t done anything wrong, always keep your calm and respond kindly. Because you’ll never know what they’re going through.
And if all hope is lost and there’s no way to work with this client, you can always cut ties with them.
I apologize if my work failed to meet your standards. I’ve put my best efforts into delivering this work to you. So I’m not sure what else I can do to improve it.
Maybe I’m not the right person for this project. If you’d like I can recommend you a few other freelancers that might be a better fit for you.
Let me know what you think.
This shows that you have integrity and that you’re not willing to bend to a client’s will. After such a response, the client will often calm down and try to work through the problems with you.
Don’t Be Over-Confident
It’s normal for an artist or creator to have a bit of an ego after working and practicing their craft for a long time.
The trick is not to let it get in the way of your work.
When you have an ego, you will often feel over-confident in your skills and abilities. So when a client comes to you with criticism, your immediate response is to give excuses and explain why your choices matter.
This is not only a great way to sever the ties between you and the client. But it will also cost you a good learning opportunity.
Don’t underestimate your client. They have a unique perspective on your work. Whether they have experience in your field or not, their feedback can be a great opportunity for you to learn.
There are always more ways you can handle terrible clients. And, keep in mind, that kindness is always the best way to respond to anger.
Having said that, if a client keeps complaining and asking for more changes all the time, it’s time to ditch them. There are lots of great clients out there.
Image credits Freepik.com
Did you find this article useful? Then you should check out my book Freelance Like A Pro. It includes 21 lessons and 5 secrets from my freelance career to help you supercharge your journey as a freelancer. Click here to learn more.
You have received criticism, and you are unsure how to respond to it. While it is natural to feel angry and defensive, this will only waste your energy and time. Instead, respond by listening actively to what has been said and seeking alternative solutions. First, remember that criticism is not always aimed at you. Most criticism is not malicious. Therefore, it’s important not to take it personally and separate your self-worth from the criticism. Instead, acknowledge your critic’s criticism by saying something like “Thanks for your feedback” or “That’s an interesting question.” This will neutralize the tension and show the other person that you are trying to respond civilly. If you are not sure how to respond to criticism, try watching a documentary about Coco Chanel.
Getting criticism is never pleasant, but remember that it’s important to learn from it and move forward. If you’re being criticized by a colleague or friend, try to understand their intentions. After all, they’re giving you constructive criticism and trying to improve you. But if you’re the one doing the criticizing, remember that they’re just trying to help you. It’s best to learn how to respond to criticism positively and reframe it in a way that makes you feel better about yourself.
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Thank you so much. I’m glad you’ve found it helpful 🙂