We don't live in an ideal freelance world.
The conflicts between freelancers and their clients shouldn't be treated as a taboo. Every business relationship has the potential to create the right chemistry or conflict.
Before I launched a new freelance platform goLance, I used to work a lot as a freelancer myself. Now, I hire freelancers on a daily basis. I've realized something very important when it comes to conflicts in the freelance industry.
Determining and proving who is right and who is wrong in a conflict is the perfect waste of time for both freelancers and clients. Your objective as a freelancer in a conflict with a client isn't to be a judge, but rather a peacemaker and problem-solver.
Here are some proven steps a freelancer can take to successfully defuse a conflict with a client and still achieve a win-win scenario for both parties:
Your First Conflict Resolution Task Is To Ask
Communication is and has always been the key to every problem. The trouble is that in the heat of conflict freelancers forget to ask a few simple questions.
What is the problem?
What went wrong?
What made you unhappy about my work?
If you want to solve a conflict then you first have to identify a problem that's causing it. I know that's something easy and quite obvious to say. However, you would be surprised to find out how much time both freelancers and clients spend arguing about everything imaginable, but not the problem itself.
The Road To A Conflict's Resolution Leads Through Your Client's Feedback
Before you negotiate, you should investigate. Go through your initial negative client's feedback thoroughly more than once.
Just because you don't like it that doesn't mean you couldn't find a few acceptable points that can lead to a solution. Quite often, all it takes is an additional revision or two.
There's no point in being too proud or unreasonably stubborn. This doesn't mean that you should be a freelancer whose clients are always right no matter what.
It's entirely up to you where you're going to draw your freelance line. It's also in your best interest to find a balance between being a defensive and a constructive freelancer in a conflict.
The Winner Isn't The One Who Takes It All, But Settles For Something
How do you feel about a partial payment?
Something is still better than nothing, isn't it? If you insist on the full payment then you're forgetting something important.
In order to get the full payment, both parties have to be happy with the work. That's no longer the case with your client. I'm not saying that you should give up and accept a situation where you did some work for free either.
There has to be an amount that covers the time you invested. Otherwise, you're going to end up with empty pockets and a heart full of bitterness.
You can still push your freelancer's luck and be paid in full. On some freelance platforms that can lead to the so-called "Pyrrhic victory." Meaning, you can get your money, but a client can leave a negative review.
Luckily for you, that's not the case on goLance. Our website's Terms excludes the possibility of intentional vengeful reviews for both clients and freelancers. Once you have solved a conflict, you are no longer able to leave a review for obvious reasons.
At the same time, our support team insists that the parties in a conflict should look for an acceptable solution on their own. Those who have created a conflict situation in the first place should be the ones to resolve it. As simple as that.
The High-Conflict Clients OR Freelancers Don't Last Long In The Freelance Industry
You can't be always right whether you are a client or a freelancer. If getting into conflicts is a rule rather than an exception to your freelance behavior, then the freelance industry will put you in the right place.
A series of reviews that are all about conflicts are the red flags for both clients and freelancers. There's no client who would accept to work with a freelancer who has a working history filled with conflicts. On the other side, not even the freelancers in dire straits don't want to work with clients who have a conflict as their middle name.
I have said it many times. There are no coincidences and blind spots in the freelance industry. Every type of professional behavior or attitude is either properly rewarded or immediately punished.
The clients who create conflicts without a just reason lose time. The freelancers who can't resolve conflicts lose money. Those who do it right rarely get into a conflict. Even if they do, they quickly turn it into a win-win.
The way you deal with client-related conflicts says a lot about you as a freelancer, doesn't it?