Sometimes you’ll get a request from your customers that sound completely silly. Although they pay the bills, there are some things that you can and should deny. Any request that will delay the go-live or alter the deliverables on a project go-forward, should be pushed back. This doesn’t mean you aren’t willing to work with the customer, it just means that you don’t have the availability to facilitate their request.
I know it sounds difficult, but with a little practice, you will find that it is not difficult nor unreasonable to give a little pushback to the client. Let’s practice with a short role-playing scenario. You play the part of CEO of Camelot Enterprises and I’ll play the part of CONSULTANT with Castle Studios.
CONSULTANT: Allo! Who is eet?
CEO: It is I, CEO of Camelot, and these are my Knights of the Conference Table. Who’s company is this?
CONSULTANT: This is the company of my manager, Guy de Loimbard.
CEO: Go and tell your manager that we have been charged by God with a sacred quest. If he will give us food and shelter for the night he can join us in our quest for the Holy Grail.
CONSULTANT: Well, I’ll ask him, but I don’t think he’ll be very keen. Uh, he’s already got one, you see?
VP: He says they’ve already got one!
CEO: Are you sure he’s got one?
CONSULTANT: Oh, yes, it’s very nice-a. (I told him we already got one.)
CEO: Well, u– um, can we come up and have a look?
CONSULTANT: Of course not! You are English types-a!
CEO: Well, what are you then?
CONSULTANT: I’m French! Why do think I have this outrageous accent, you silly executive-a?!
VP: What are you doing in England?
CONSULTANT: Mind your own business!
CEO: If you will not show us the Grail, we shall take your company by force!
CONSULTANT: You don’t frighten us, English pig-dogs! Go and boil your bottom, sons of a silly person. I blow my nose at you, so-called Chief Executive, you and all your silly English k-nnnnniggets. Thpppppt! Thppt! Thppt!
VP: What a strange person.
CEO: Now look here, my good man–
CONSULTANT: I don’t wanna talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough wiper! I fart in your general direction! You mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!
VP: Is there someone else up there we could talk to?
CONSULTANT: No, now go away or I shall taunt you a second time-a! [sniff]
CEO: Now, this is your last chance. I’ve been more than reasonable.
CONSULTANT: (Fetchez la vache.)
OTHER CONSULTANT: Quoi?
CONSULTANT: (Fetchez la vache!)
CEO: If you do not agree to my commands, then I shall–
CEO: Jesus Christ!
KNIGHTS: Ah! Ohh!
CEO: Right! Charge!
CONSULTANT: Hey, this one is for your mother! There you go.
CONSULTANT: And this one’s for your dad!
CEO: Run away!
KNIGHTS: Run away!
There. Now you are fully trained to deal with those occasional unruly clients and their silly requests. A little pushback isn’t so bad, is it?