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Passion, People and Principles

The Client From Hell

post # 498 — February 6, 2008 — a Client Relations post

Bob Sutton, author of the fabulous book “THE NO-ASSHOLE RULE” has developed an amazing quiz to rate your client(s.)

You’ve GOT to check this out!


Buddy Hubbert said:

WOW! I read a lot of pent up frustration and anger when I navigate through that “quiz”. I thank goodness we do not have any clients like that. I can think of a few that exhibit a couple of those traits now and then – but fortunately we don’t have any clients from “The hottest part of hell”

Not to be a shill, but in Maister’s latest book, there is considerable attention given to the importance of relationship development – see chapters 6, 7 and 8. It seems that if a service professional has been successful at developing relationships, then the behaviors indicated in the quiz would not be seen. Those behaviors seem to come from a client that sees you as a commodity, not as a valuable resource. It may be that if you have a client like this, it would be instructive to review business development methods.

posted on February 6, 2008

Mark Qualman said:

I applied this test to my “internal” client, the different departments in our organization. Boy, was that an eye opener!

posted on February 6, 2008

Andrea Howe said:

Wow, that’s brutal. I can’t tell if this quiz is a big joke and I’m not getting it or whether it’s serious. If it’s serious, and you are in all seriousness answering yes to ANY of the questions, I gotta wonder: what’s going on that you are allowing/teaching your clients to treat you this way? Check out Charlie Green’s (Trusted Advisor co-author) latest article on client service vs. client servility. Some interesting perspectives on what’s really going on when we turn ourselves into pretzels/doormats/etc. for our clients. http://www.raintoday.com/pages/3204_the_difference_between_client_service_and_client_servility.cfm

posted on February 7, 2008

Charles H. Green said:

Gee, David, I think that quiz is a little sick.

I think it’s the sort of quiz that is taken gleefully by the same people who put up passive-aggressive little cartoons on the walls of their cubicle (“you want it when!!??”) and who are probably just as guilty of talking behind their clients’ backs as are the clients themselves. These are the kinds of things said by people who’ve been through a very bad divorce.

In my experience, it’s just extremely rare to find someone for whom these characteristics are objectively true. They go in pairs, as in “it takes one to know one,” and they feed on each other.

Simply put, anyone with a client who treats them like this is–I’d bet–a pretty ineffective professional themselves.

Sutton’s book–while there is an undeniable kernel of truth in it–is great fodder for those who want to blame others. At best, it’s a guilty pleasure, like gossip and bad-mouthing others.

The “asshole clients” themselves are never the ones reading this material; it’s the consultants who are indulging themselves in various forms of “it’s not my fault,” “if you had my client you’d fail too,” and other versions of blamethrowing. It’s more about the resentment of the one taking the quiz than it is about the one supposedly being described.

The whole thing reminds me of, “point a finger at someone, and your fist points three fingers back at you.”

posted on February 7, 2008

Ellen Ostrow said:

Speaking of Bob Sutton, thought you might enjoy this:

posted on February 7, 2008