Use These Hacks When You Just Can’t Connect.
Once you have your pediatric sleep consultant certification (congratulations!), you’ll probably be wondering how to be the best possible sleep consultant. You’re prepared; you have the skills and the personality to help clients teach their babies to sleep. But what happens when you don’t like your client?
Perhaps the client is rude — or appears so from your perspective. Maybe they seemed on board with your methods at first, but now they’re cooling off. Or perhaps you’re experiencing a personality clash and can’t figure out why. And then there are those dreaded clients — few and far between, in my experience — you just can’t stand. (Yes, it happens.)
Eventually, even the kindest consultant will run into someone who is oil to their water. So what do you do?
Here are reasons a consultant/client relationship can occasionally be an unhappy one, plus the best hacks to solve the problem.
Identify What’s Going Wrong When You Don’t Like Your Client
The first thing you need to do is find out what’s really bothering you about your relationship with your client. Some of the most common reasons clients and consultants clash are:
- Your basic parenting methods differ
- The client wants a quick fix and is frustrated
- The client doesn’t like your prices
- Your client expects overnight success
- Your client cools off after an enthusiastic start, and you can’t understand why
- Your client is abusive, rude or uses language you don’t like
- Your client believes you are using methods that might harm their baby
Hacks for Making it Work
When you can’t seem to connect with your client, it’s natural to become frustrated. The thing to keep in mind is that your client is a parent trying to get through the night; you’re the professional. So yes, it’s on you to try to fix things, with a few exceptions (see Is It Time to Sever the Relationship? below).
Here are common reasons you two might not mix, plus my favorite hacks for making things work:
- The client’s personality bothers you: Remember that unless you see evidence of abuse in the home, a brash personality — or simply one that rubs you the wrong way — may be just that, the client’s personality. I have found that most of my clients are absolutely wonderful. But sometimes, you simply clash. When this happens, it’s time to bite the bullet, put a smile on your face, and run the program. You’re a treasured help, but you’re not your client’s bestie.
- The client gives “too much” information: A client who wants to talk about her marital or sex problems, or money woes, is beginning to cross a line. Smile, and tell your client you have some resources for her. Have a link to county and state resources ready, and share it with her. Then move along with the program.
- The client is reluctant to follow the rules of the program: Gently remind your client how the sleep plan you created for her baby is the best thing for her little one. If you need to, explain the part of the process where your client seemed to change from enthusiastic to hesitant. Clients often find comfort in understanding the rationale behind your recommendations, particularly when they know it’s rooted in evidence-based research and scientific principles. So go ahead and show off your expertise gained from your sleep consultant certification course.
- The client has suddenly changed: A client who was happy with their sleep plan, then does a 180 and seems tight-lipped or even angry, has probably heard/read something she doesn’t like. Be sensitive to your client’s body concerns. If she suddenly clams up, backtrack and ask, “Do you understand this next step? I’d love your input.” Most clients will open up and explain what they don’t like. You can then reword things, or give a better explanation.
- The client objects to what she is being charged: Gently remind the client of the contract you both signed. If your contracts include an out clause, ask her if she would like to discontinue services, or whether you should continue.
Is It Time to Sever the Relationship?
Sometimes things go beyond a personality conflict or different values. It may be time to discontinue the job if:
- The client becomes rude or abusive.
- The client says she will not continue the program unless you reduce your fee.
- The client threatens to leave you a bad review. (In this case, be professional. Tell your client, “Lisa, I’m sorry you weren’t happy with the program. It was such a sincere pleasure getting to know you, and I wish you and Lana the best.”)
- The client is obviously not following the instructions of your sleep plan, but complains that she isn’t getting results with her infant’s sleep.
- You EVER feel you are in danger, in any way.
Choose Your Clients Wisely
You may be tempted, especially in the beginning of your sleep consultant career, to take on every client who comes your way. But the early stage of your career is when you should be most choosy.
If your client gives off vibes that make you uncomfortable, if they complain about the price before they sign their contract, or if you’re getting a nervous feeling from them for any reason, you may want to state that your appointment book is full. If they ask you when you’ll be available, suggest they contact you in three months.
During that time, you’ll gain more experience with different types of clients, and the one who made you feel uncomfortable may have found a consulting different service.
Remember: very difficult clients are the exception, not the rule. I have found most of my clients to be absolutely wonderful! So if you’re ready to get started with your new career…
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With the IPSP ® Sleep Consultant Certification Program teaches you everything from sleep training techniques, and creating a customized sleep plan, to the business side of things – and so much more. (Yes, including how to deal with a situation when you don’t like your client!)
You also get to join our exclusive online community, many of whom are moms. You’ll get ongoing support and connection as you learn how to work while being a stay-at-home mom.