{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "How can you support moody, passive-aggressive clients and not let it impact your mental health? I understand that managing the relationship is largely our job in account servicing, but the stress and anxiety is taking its toll on me. Honestly feels like being in an abusive/toxic relationship. And yes, senior management and leadership are aware of this attitude and supportive wherever possible, but can only do so much. Help!", "post_id": "603f90e9d7e352002fc030f4", "reply_count": 13, "vote_count": 8, "bowl_id": "5a3b5e6f57397600147146d3", "bowl_name": "Account Management" }

How can you support moody, passive-aggressive clients and not let it impact your mental health? I understand that managing the relationship is largely our job in account servicing, but the stress and anxiety is taking its toll on me. Honestly feels like being in an abusive/toxic relationship. And yes, senior management and leadership are aware of this attitude and supportive wherever possible, but can only do so much. Help!

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I’ve been in the industry 7 yrs so there might some better advice out there, but here what’s I’ve learned so far - After a couple of crazy clients I’ve grown thick skin and my top advice is just don’t take it personally. If the client is shitty it’s likely a reflection of their crappy life, and not your hard work/awesomeness. One additional note - always always always have paper trail of decisions (even if they are done on the phone or text, send recaps acknowledging decisions discussed) - set boundaries - only answer texts/emails during work hours. So the client gets the hint you’re not working around the clock for him/her - take time to decompress after work. Do something different - go for a walk, paint, read, learn a new hobby. this has helped me when dealing with crazy clients. Shifts my focus after work so I’m not thinking about clients/work - that being said, if the clients attitude is getting in the way of you completing your work and if the anxiety is too much, I recommend you change to another team. Also take note that if senior leadership isn’t doing anything, they likely care more about revenue than the wealth being of employees. Maybe it’s time to go to another company. No job is worth your mental health and well-being. Hope this helps. Sending good vibes.

likehelpful

Such great advice! I’ve dealt with a few intense clients in my career and all of these points would’ve helped me a lot in the past.

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I can’t wait to read the answer(s)... as I never cracked the code. I’m sure someone will have solid, inspiring advise, but the truth is there are bad clients out there, and they will always be bad clients. If they move to another company they will be a bad client to their new agency. Often all you can do is set emotional boundaries and deal with it. I’ve never been so lucky to have the support of senior leadership to help take a stand as the client’s money was always too important. Sorry I don’t have a more positive, upbeat answer... I’m following for someone who does.

likesmart

I think bad clients who pay well are just ticking time bombs for agencies. They’re good revenue but agencies are aware that it’s not a sustainable relationship. So, until then, you either suck it up (set emotional boundaries, ensure there are clear briefs, exhale the bullshit) or just leave altogether. I am curious to hear if there is a magical, out-of-the-box approach.

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What I’ve found that works with clients such as these is just to kill them with kindness. Often their attitude and abusive behavior can be indicative of their own unhappiness in their own role. I’ve found that slowly working to create a more personable relationship, opening meetings with quick banter, asking about their weekend plans etc. and giving them a few insights in to my life as well has had major benefits. It helps them see you more as a person, rather than a vendor. If I can make them look at me as an ally in this environment as well as someone they can relate to, I’ve found the relationship turns from being less abusive and more of a partnership and/or someone they can even vent to about frustrations on their side in their own workplace. Obviously sticky clients like this will always have their dramatic moments, but I was able to turn one of my most difficult clients into one of my most staunch supporters with this method, often wasting an hour just listening to her talk about her dating life or who she was mad at that day. I ultimately became a de facto therapist, but our relationship and working still improved dramatically. Hope some of this might help! Sorry you’re dealing with this.

likesmart

Thank you so much 👏🏽

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First off, I applaud you for recognizing the situation, the negative impact it has on your well-being and seeking ways to address it professionally so it doesn’t negatively impact your client relationship 👏🏼 As someone who has been in marketing and advertising for over 17 years mostly on the account side, I’ve managed a lot of different clients ranging from high-strung type As, passive aggressive, those with no physical boundaries to ones that flagrantly under-minded the agency at every turn. What it’s taught me is to not take their BS personally and grow a thick skin. Whatever they’re going through internally and dishing out externally is a reflection of their own insecurities or fears. Knowing this while being on the front lines with them as an account person has allowed me to look beyond their personality shortcomings and focus instead on why they’re being that way and what can we do together to help ease their fears. For example, we recently won a new $1M account in Dec. The client was very demanding at the onset and expected our response time to be within an hour. Since most of the agency was taking unused PTO in Dec, which the client knew, they still expected us to be on call and voiced their concern to our CEO (who ended up calling me on my day off - I only had taken 3 last year). I was very annoyed and frustrated with the new client’s unrealistic expectations and how they chose to escalate it so early on. Even being in the biz many years later, I’m still human and have emotions! But after I got over the initial vent session with my supportive CEO, I remembered that there was probably something bigger at play and I was going to find out. After I sent an email to the client acknowledging her concern and apologizing for the delayed responses, I was direct about the reality of the situation: “it’s the last two weeks of the year, we just received a signed contract last week and while we are eager to start working on your biz, the team is unfortunately taking well deserved time off. The delayed response is not an indicator of how truly excited we are to begin this partnership!” Client wrote back immediately and thanked me for the email. Over the past two months, the client has shared with me how much pressure she’s under being new to the company, trying to build credibility and mend wounds that her predecessor made with internal business units and move the business forward. It’s clear that the pressure she applied to us back in December was most likely due to the pressure she’s under. I’m not excusing any behavior, but when we can identify the root cause, we can find the best solution. It can be incredibly challenging to remain positive when someone’s being moody and PA, but I promise you’ll feel better about yourself and the client will look at you as a partner. Client relationships are very much like the personal relationships we have in the sense that in order for it to work, there has to be mutual respect for each other, honest communication, grace and boundaries. The less I treat my clients like “clients” and more like a human, it takes the pressure off of being (and being seen as) just an “agency rep” and I’m able to level and relate to them better. Hope that helps - best of luck to you!

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Thank you so much 🙏🏼

This one is so hard. Making sure Sr. leadership is aware and setting clear boundaries are important steps. Our jobs are to mange relationships not be punching bags. If it is getting to the point that you are feeling like the latter I have found 2 things are key: 1. Don't be on the phone alone anymore always have someone else from the agency on the phone to back you up 2. Being direct with the client about what in your relationship is not working for you and make sure you are clear about where your lines are. Don't take it personally and having a thick skin are things we need on a normal day when a client gets to a certain level you need to be very clear about expectations along with what is behavior that won't be tolerated. All that said make sure you have support from leadership and they are also aware of your boundaries. It will never be a quick fix but try to keep a level head and handle professionally. If a particular conversation is going to far don't be afraid to say I think we should end this here and discuss when we can be more professional/calm or whatever it is you need.

likeuplifting

Thank you! I think engaging senior leadership beyond awareness, if and when necessary is important, but making sure first to have open and honest communication with the client around modes of engagement and what makes it difficult to achieve the bottom line (ie making them looking good in front of senior leadership, which retains the relationship and account revenue). Thanks again 👏🏽

I so get this. In 20 years, I had a fair share of these client-types, cried on a few occasions (never in front of them) and learned that it really helped to push boundaries if needed. One client was a human pendulum, swinging from sweet to psycho - one time they called me early one evening and without so much as a hello, started tearing into me about something. Calmly, I said I would be more than happy to discuss once they were in a better headspace to have a conversation. I immediately contacted my leadership and explained their behavior and my response. They supported me 100% and made sure the client was aware of the agency expectations on respectful dialogue. Now that I am the client, I make sure I bring that same approach to my agency relationships. You get a lot more out of agency teams when they feel respected and appreciated. We need work as a team - period.

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👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽

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