Dealing with Crazymaker Clients – Part 1

Posted by on Jan 23 2014

Dealing with difficult clients?

I hear horrific stories all the time from my colleagues and clients about their own customers (also — vendors, mastermind group members, partners and employees) who constantly step outside the boundaries of what’s considered good social behavior.

Sure, we all make mistakes from time-to-time, but these folks make a nasty habit of it.

Your overall health and your quality of business life matters. Identifying and dealing with crazymakers will give you a helping hand in creating the business you want.

Are your clients making you crazy? Your health and the health of your business matters.

I’m sure you’ll recognize some of these types of customers:

  1. The Non-payer: They promise to pay, they may even have a contract, but over and over again the check doesn’t arrive. They pretend they didn’t get your invoice, or your emails, or your phone calls.
  2. The Verbal Twister: They “remember” everything you say, and will tell you that you said (and meant) something completely different than your actual words. They take all your words and interpret them in their own way, especially when it’s not possible for you to remember everything you’ve ever said.
  3. The Complainer: Everything in their life sucks, and they tell you about it ad nauseam, every chance they get; also known as The Squeaky Wheel because they feel if they make enough noise, they’ll get more attention. Also akin to The Energy Vampire — every time you come in contact with them, you walk away feeling drained, exhausted and debilitated.
  4. I Love You, But: This crazymaker starts off praising you. They say things like, “I love your work,” or “You really understand me.” In the next sentence they rip you apart, accusing you of double-dealing, sub-standard work, or unethical behavior on your part, completely out of the blue. This “give then take” approach keeps you off balance, which is the whole point.
  5. The Rusher: Always in a hurry to get something done and doesn’t care if you’re busy with other projects or other customers. They say things like, “I want it yesterday,” or “I know you said you have no open appointments, but can you sneak me in first thing tomorrow morning?”
  6. The Naysayer: No matter how many creative solutions you come up with, the Naysayer can find a reason why it won’t work, could never work, hasn’t ever worked in the history of mankind. They exhaust you then are unhappy with the results they’re not getting because they won’t change their behavior (and it’s all your fault because you didn’t come up with the one idea that they’d actually be willing to implement out of the 100 you gave them).

That’s just a starter list; there are many more crazymaker types out there.

I know you’ve run into business connections whose repeated bad behavior has you scratching your head in bewilderment. I’d love to hear your stories…share them in the Comments below, okay? We all benefit by reading about other people’s experiences with crazymaker clients.

Remember, unless you are a psychotherapist or psychiatrist, you are not trained to identify crazymakers upon first meeting them, so don’t beat yourself up if one of these people sneaks into your business life. Even trained mental health practioners cannot always instantly spot a crazymaker.

In Part 2 of this blog post, I’ll give you some tips on how to deal with the crazymaker clients in your business life.


19 comments for now

19 Responses to “Dealing with Crazymaker Clients – Part 1”

  1. John Lerner

    What I want to know is why people act like that? Normal people don’t keep pushing when you have to say no to them. I have a customer who wants everything for free and keeps asking for more than what is in the contract. When I tell her that it will cost more she gets all huffy. Why?

    19 Jan 2012 at 2:57 pm

  2. Karyn Greenstreet

    John, I’ve done a lot of research on this, and surprisingly the answer is nearly always the same: Crazymakes don’t *know* they’re doing it. Sometimes we have to point out the behavior to them. Yes there are a few folks with mental health issues, but sometimes people just in a rush and aren’t paying attention to how they come across. That being said, you need a strategy for dealing with repeat offenders so that you can stay happy.

    19 Jan 2012 at 3:19 pm

  3. Caro McVitie

    I had one client who kept changing his mind constantly. Everytime I thought we had a final agreement on something, he’d go off in another direction. Totally frustrating!

    I can’t wait to see your next article to tell me how to deal with people like that.

    19 Jan 2012 at 2:52 pm

  4. Karyn Greenstreet

    That’s why I got out of the website design business, Caroline, and into the business and marketing planning business. I ended up having to coach my website design clients through the labyrinth of choices to come to a final decision. Then I thought, “Hey, this is what they really need! I’ll do coaching and leave the website design work to Aly.” 🙂

    P.S. You’ll like next week’s blog post.

    19 Jan 2012 at 3:22 pm

  5. Ha ha… I KNOW I’ve said “I need it yesterday” sorry about that Karen 🙂 And yes, I didn’t realize at the time what a drain it is on the person I’m asking but also on myself. I’ve found that kind of demand and pressure on myself leads to poor implementation.

    20 Jan 2012 at 1:42 am

  6. Karyn Greenstreet

    I don’t think you ever said it to me, Jessica. 🙂

    I know what you mean about the pressure on oneself to perform quickly. It becomes a terrible burden we put on ourselves and instead of feeling productive, we feel overwhelmed.

    20 Jan 2012 at 8:30 am

  7. This is a great post, Karyn. Yes, we have experienced this, and we are looking forward to Part 2. Thanks for a great perspective!

    20 Jan 2012 at 9:53 pm

  8. Karyn Greenstreet

    Good to hear from you, Mary Lou…Part 2 will be out shortly! 🙂

    21 Jan 2012 at 8:46 am

  9. Oh, the stories I could tell….
    About the energy healer who drains your energy like no other – it happened a few days ago. Or the prospect who will pay you “as soon as you send (them) something in writing” and then disappears from the face of Earth.
    I think some of the crazymakers do it consciously. Their belief being that they are entitled to your time, experience, knowledge – all for free of course. And then whine that they themselves don’t have enough clients…
    If you have a slight dent in your boundaries, the “entitled” will take advantage of it.
    I am working on creating very clear boundaries now.
    Looking forward to your tips next week.

    21 Jan 2012 at 8:09 am

  10. Karyn Greenstreet

    Oh, Judit! The energy healer who is an energy vampire? Not a good omen for his/her future business prospects.

    I hear you on the boundaries issue. We have to be strong in saying, “This is what I give away for free and this is what I charge for.” Otherwise we’d all be out of business in no time.

    21 Jan 2012 at 8:48 am

  11. Hello Karyn. I can’t imagine who isn’t in a “helping” profession who wouldn’t have odd behavior stories to share…and as a Life and Career Coach for over 17 years, I have a few.

    One of these was a client who came to for career support, but continually talked about how unhappy she was in her marriage and how her husband undermined her efforts. I pointed this out to her and encouraged her to address these concerns with other help, without going into it further. She quit coaching after talking with her husband, falsely accusing me of suggesting she get a divorce.

    Yet one time when a man hired me to work with him on career clarity and transition, he shared the bitter difficulty he had in getting along with women. We did agree to address this in sessions and he was soon in a healthy personal and working relationship. His therapist of fifteen years called me to thank me, perplexed as to how I’d caused this breakthrough.

    Go figure!

    21 Jan 2012 at 3:23 pm

  12. Karyn Greenstreet

    That’s one crazymaker I forgot, Laurie — the one who blames YOU for the decisions they make. I’ll have to add that to my list! (I think I’m up to 45 now:)).

    Interesting how your second client hired a WOMAN when he knew he had difficulties getting along with women. It’s like he knew he had to respect and trust a woman in order to help him in that part of his life. Of course, I’m no therapist, and it could have just been a coincidence.

    21 Jan 2012 at 6:16 pm

  13. I’ve got 2 additions I think. One is a variation on the Energy Vampire or Complainer…the you “Give them an inch they take a mile” group. You go above and beyond to deliver maximum value, they take that, ask for more, then criticize you for not giving them enough value. Leaving you drained.

    The other one is what I think of as Self-Deceivers. They think they know what they want and need, and are articulate about that. But you can sense what they really need is something else. This leads to constant struggle and indecision on their part, since they haven’t come to terms with what they really need, so they won’t join you on that page. They just aren’t ready – but can’t admit it to themselves. If you believe what they say and don’t listen to your own intuition – it leads to frustration for everyone.

    I love this post. Even just identifying these reminds me that with my business relationships, just like the rest of the relationships in my life, it’s not ALL on me to make the relationship work. Can’t wait for Part 2.

    22 Jan 2012 at 7:08 pm

  14. Karyn Greenstreet

    Lori, great additions! Your “Give them an inch” comment reminds me of a story: A graphic artist was at her desk on a Sunday doing personal work, when an “emergency” email came through from a client. Now, her clients know that she doesn’t work on weekends, but as a gesture of goodwill, she answered him immediately and solved the problem after several hours of work. While the client admitted great thanks that she had handled the problem on a Sunday, he then expected her to answer ALL his emails on weekends immediately, and complained vividly that she was “unresponsive” even though she told him she doesn’t work weekends. I filed this in the “no good deed ever goes unpunished” category. 🙂

    22 Jan 2012 at 7:19 pm

  15. […] Part 1 of this article, I gave you some ideas on how to spot a crazymaker client (or student, or business partner, or mastermind group member – whomever you have a close business […]

    16 Jul 2012 at 8:34 am

  16. The ones that irk me are those who say, “Oh, I could never possibly do coaching over the phone. Can we meet in person?” I say, “No.” And I add, “I work with people all over the world via phone and Skype so it’s not really time-efficient for me to meet you outside of my office.” They say, “Oh, can I come to your office?” I say, “No, I don’t see clients in my office to protect my children’s privacy. I am happy to work with you on the phone or via Skype.” And they continue to push, until I say, “Let me give you a couple of names of folks who will meet with you in person.” Ai yi yi. Drives me nuts.

    20 May 2013 at 9:58 am

  17. Karyn Greenstreet

    LOL, Michele. There are always those people who want to push past your rules. As business owners, we set these rules for very good reasons (at least, I hope we’ve carefully thought them through!).

    It reminds me of when I was a kid.

    “Mom, can I have piece of cake as a snack?”
    “Have an apple.”
    “How about some potato chips?”
    “Have an apple.”
    “Can I have some gummy bears?”
    “Have an apple.”


    20 May 2013 at 11:03 am

  18. […] Dealing with Crazymaker Clients – How to Identify Them (Part 1) […]

    09 Jul 2014 at 7:31 am

  19. Bea

    Thanks so much for this great post. Sometimes, I think I’m the only one that gets people who I can’t give enough value, thought, freebies, consults and the like to. Yes, they are energy vampires! And I’ve allowed one too many to do that to me because I want to serve and solve. This post makes me feel less alone with the crazies. Thanks!

    10 Jul 2014 at 9:55 pm

Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business