Some clients don’t want your help.
They say they do. They come to you for advice and listen to your good suggestions on solving a problem they complain about.
And then they do nothing. No matter how easy, fast, cheap or effective the solutions you propose might be, some people can’t be convinced to go for it. They’re comfortable with their problems. They’re used to their misery.
Better the devil they know, after all.
Well now. That’s just crazy talk.
It’s much easier for many people to stay stuck sighing about their problems and hesitating on change. “It’s just not the right time… I’m not sure this would work… it sounds too risky right now… maybe I should just leave things as they are. It’s not so bad.”
Fear wins, every time.
It’s easy to get frustrated with this kind of behavior, especially when you’ve moved past it (for the most part) and know how great life is on the other side.
I’ve heard many freelancers complain about clients who won’t move forward, even though it’s painfully clear they should. Ugly websites, bad strategies, terrible copy, outdated everything… no wonder these clients aren’t getting any new business coming in.
You’ll likely recognize the frustration of these freelancers: “But I can help this client, and it’d be so much better for him!! It’s like I’m talking to a wall. Why won’t he just try this one thing?! I can’t understand him…”
I can. Clients get stuck in hesitation because there’s something they need to learn, something they need to understand, or something they need to do – and they’re just not ready for it yet.
Being willing to change is one thing. Being ready to change is another.
We all hold ourselves back to some extent or another, in different areas of our life. I do, you do, everyone does, whether we’re avoiding making a brave step forward or hesitating on some tiny little change.
If only we had a crystal ball. If only we could know we weren’t making a mistake. If only we could be sure…
Your clients feel the same way. They have worries and concerns and fears, and some aren’t comfortable with taking risks or experimentation.
You can address their objections – and you should. You can use your best, most convincing arguments in hopes of changing their mind. But working to convince them when you’re clearly not getting anywhere is a waste of time.
Best to just give up. Even if it hurts. Even if it frustrates you to no end. Even if it makes you angry.
Give it up, and let it go. Be kind to people, of course, even if you think they’re total idiots for not making this change. Be sympathetic and understanding. You’re still dealing with real people and while they may not be ready to move forward, they still deserve your support and respect.
You don’t have to respect their fears, of course. Fear never really deserves respect. But the person does. Respect that they’re struggling with a fear, have much yet to learn, and leave them to it.
Read that again: Leave them to it.
Many people need to learn their lessons the hard way. You know you could help them avoid that heartache, but they just won’t listen, and that’s okay.
Let your clients make a mistake. Your clients need to fail from time to time. They need to get poor results. They need to have their blog flop or their website die a slow death. They need to have stuff go wrong.
If they never experience negative consequences, they don’t learn to make better choices. Positive experiences are nice, but they don’t teach you as well as the school of hard knocks.
Don’t hold back when a client asks for help, of course. Just recognize when you’re wasting your breath, and let it go. It’s your client’s opportunity to learn and grow, and you shouldn’t take that away from anyone.
Of course, offer to be there should your client ever change his mind or need assistance. Some clients realize that they’re about to make a mistake and see the light. Some make the mistake and come back for help fixing things up.
Then you get to hear these lovely words: “You were right. I should’ve listened to you in the first place.”
If you truly want to help people change for the better… wait until they’re ready to make that change. They’ll come to you, with a look of fierce steel in their eyes and a determined growl in their voice as they say, “I want this. I need this. I have to do this. Help me, please.”
It sounds so much better than, “Yeah, I know, but…”
Your time, expertise and experience are precious. They’re worth sharing with those who are ready to put them to good use.
Those who aren’t? Let ’em be. You aren’t being cruel. They’ll come to you… when they’re good and ready change.