How to strategically disagree with a client without offending anybody?

Apr 11, 2019
by Rakesh Tulsiani

Just because your invoices come through your clients does not mean you have to put up through everything they demand. In a creative agency, you are compelled to think out of the box, and most of the times you are likely to have a difference of opinion with your clients. The creative conflict can sometimes be challenging to negotiate, but you cannot progress without having productive disagreements. However, if the squabble goes the hard way and leans more towards unhealthy, heated arguments, it can lead to damaging consequences. And, you don`t want that for your business. Do you?

So how do you put across your opinions and disagree such that you acknowledge their expertise yet demonstrate your professional adeptness, the reason why they hired you and placed their trust on you in the first place?  Let`s focus on ways you can ensure your relationship with the client is not negatively affected, and you come to a mutually profitable understanding!

Let Your Client Speak!

Be it a personal or professional relationship; you need to be a good listener. Hear out the points your client has to state and what their views are. It is possible that you both don`t hit it on the same page but understand why they insist on following the approach of their choice. When you thoroughly understand what they seek, let them know whether it`s an excellent thought to incorporate their ideas, and, if not, then be courageous to state why!  

Mind your Tone!

Your voice and tone play a crucial role in how others perceive you. Raising your voice while having an intense argument can often negatively impact the whole agenda of the meeting. Don`t be that hot-headed person who gets agitated easily when things don`t follow their way. Be courteous yet confident in keeping your points across.

It`s not a Combat!

Cut down on making “You” statements like “You do this…”, “You said that in the last meeting…..” etc. when you are both not ready to budge. Be very careful while framing your words, ensure they pass through the right filter so that you don`t sound argumentative. After all, it`s not a battle, and you don`t have to emerge out as the winner. Using “You” statements does nothing but provokes the wrong sentiments. The other person can get defensive and bitter and the next thing you know you are trapped amidst a stormy argument.

To Err is To Human!

Humans make mistakes, and you will make them too. You can be lacking on some knowledge or might have incorrectly interpreted the brief given by your client. If you have misunderstood something, take responsibility for it and maintain a humble attitude. Accepting that you are wrong will help to make a breakthrough through the tense situation.

Rely on Examples!

Let real life examples give support to your ideas. Do ample research and come up with data that impress your client and they cannot refuse the idea. The data collected give more power and volume to your ideas. Also, the real-life examples eliminate the odds of running through any risk barrier for your campaign, making your idea fool-proof!

Have the confidence to depict your ideas to your client. Sometimes the conflict arises as your client is unable to picture your thoughts. Try every means possible to convince them but know what your non-negotiables are. This being said, never hold back on what you have to say unless you use positive language. Try these tips the next time you find yourself head-to-head with a client and turn the intense situation to your advantage!


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