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Disagreeing with clients – the nice way!

If you work for clients, you will not always agree with how they want things done. Sometimes, it will just be a matter of personal choice so you stay quiet and do things their way. Other times, your professional experience and knowledge leads you to believe the client would be better off following your way.

So how do you tell a valued client that you disagree with their request?

Let’s take a simplified situation – the client asks for bright red and you think pale blue is a better option.

The first response to come to mind may be “Bright red won’t work so I’m going to use pale blue for you.”

However, the client is likely to be annoyed at being told they’re wrong and you’re making the decision. Result? They will dig their heels in and insist you use bright red without further discussion – or just find another supplier.

Another response may be “Pale blue is best and applies in 90% of cases” and just going ahead with pale blue. Taking control of the project like that shows no respect for your client and may just end your relationship.

Here are some better ways to approach your client:

  • Bright red would certainly attract attention! However, did you know that colour experts consider red to mean…?
  • Is there a particular reason you want it bright red?
  • I will do it in bright red, but first I wanted to make sure you know you have a choice. The alternative is pale blue, which has the advantages of …
  • I have found an example of bright red for you, and a pale blue example as a comparison. I think the pale blue works better because… What do you think of them both?
  • That’s an interesting thought – I would never have considered bright red for this project. To me, bright red doesn’t always work because…
  • Based on my experience, bright red is less effective than pale blue because… Would you like me to try both colours so you can see the difference?

If you handle it politely and with respect, your client will appreciate you speaking up and sharing your expertise – after all, that’s why they are using your services! You may still have to complete the project in bright red, but at least the client has made an informed decision and you have respected your professional opinion.

Have you had a supplier respectfully disagree with you which has led to a better result? Share your story in the comments area below.

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