How to Be a Good Client: Fostering Mutual Respect with Contractors | SCRIBACEOUS.COM

Some recent interactions with newer clients inspired me to write a blog about how to be a good client.

While the overwhelming majority of my clients are incredibly supportive, kind, and understanding, in the past six months, I’ve been the recipient of a greater-than-normal amount of disrespect, misogyny, and bullying.

I’ve had clients demand more of my time than they were willing to pay for, I’ve been called “Baby” by a male client, and I’ve been harassed on my vacation.

Being a solopreneur is challenging. Because we are solo, we are the only ones keeping all of our balls in the air and, when we are off work in the evening, on the weekend or on vacations, there’s no one else to juggle them.

And, because we are human, occasionally we just drop a ball.

10 Ways How to Be a Good Client

Building a successful professional relationship with a contractor—in my case a graphic, PWA and website designer—requires more than just hiring them for a project.

As a client, it is crucial to understand and appreciate the value of mutual respect.

Unfortunately, some clients resort to bullying behaviors, undermining the relationship and diminishing the quality of work produced.

My personal experiences are not unique, so in this blog post I wanted to explore the significance of mutual respect between clients and contractors and shed light on nine behaviors that will ensure you don’t fall into the category of a “bad” client.

By understanding these behaviors, we can work towards fostering healthier and more productive collaborations.

1. Respect Boundaries & Time Constraints

One of the fundamental aspects of being a good client is recognizing that contractors have lives outside of their work and have other clients besides you. This is especially important to be aware of if your contractor is a solopreneur.

Respect their evenings, weekends, and holidays. Understand that they need rejuvenation and this will actually help them perform exponentially better so it’s best to avoid contacting them during non-working hours unless it’s an emergency.

Understand that they have commitments to other clients. There is only one of them and only so many hours of the day so, unless you are paying for their time, they don’t have it to spare.

By acknowledging their boundaries and time constraints, you establish a foundation of respect that benefits both parties.


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2. Honor Timelines & Deadlines

Contractors rely on effective project management, which includes adhering to agreed-upon timelines and deadlines.

Creatives also need to stay “in the creative groove” to do their best work.

Taking unreasonable amounts of time to fulfill your contractural responsibilities hurts your contractor.

Also, constantly demanding rushed deliveries without considering the impact on quality works against both you and your contractor. Recognize that rushing through a project often compromises the outcome and strains the working relationship. Support your contractor’s workflow by planning ahead and allowing sufficient time for each phase of the project.

3. Communicate Clearly & Effectively

Open lines of communication are vital for successful collaboration. However, demanding excessive phone calls or meetings without compensating the contractor for their time is both disrespectful and unfair.

Recognize that contractors charge for their expertise and time, and excessive communication should be addressed accordingly. Instead, establish a clear communication plan from the beginning, scheduling regular updates and clarifying expectations to maintain a healthy working relationship.

4. Avoid Micro-Managing

Micro-management can be a detrimental practice, negatively impacting a contractor’s creativity and productivity. Trust that you hired the contractor for their expertise and allow them the freedom to showcase their skills.

Hovering over their every move, questioning their decisions, or constantly seeking updates conveys a lack of trust and can hinder the contractor’s ability to perform their best.

5. Recognize the Value of Professional Opinions

Contractors bring their experience and expertise to the table. Their professional opinions and recommendations should be considered with respect and attentiveness.

Bullying clients dismiss the contractor’s input, undermining their value and treating them as mere tools to execute their vision.

Embrace a collaborative approach where you appreciate their knowledge and work together to achieve the desired outcome.

How to Be a Good Client: Fostering Mutual Respect with Contractors | SCRIBACEOUS.COM

6. Be Realistic with Expectations

Having unrealistic expectations can lead to frustration and disappointment for both parties.

Understand the limitations of time, resources, and expertise. Demanding perfection or constant revisions without proper justification can create an environment of stress and strain the contractor’s motivation.

Maintain a realistic outlook and engage in open discussions about project scope, ensuring clarity and alignment. And, remember, if you’re not paying for it, you don’t get it!


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7. Promptly & Clearly Address Payment Matters

Payment issues can be a significant point of contention in client-contractor relationships.

Bullying clients often delay or dispute payments, causing financial strain on the contractor. Ensure you adhere to agreed-upon payment terms and processes.

Promptly address any payment concerns or disputes, resolving them professionally and fairly. If there’s confusion about an invoice, take the time to make a quick phone call rather than type out a quick email that is likely lacking all of the relevant information.

8. Show Appreciation & Provide Constructive Feedback

Expressing appreciation for a job well done is a simple yet impactful gesture.

A bullying client fails to recognize the contractor’s efforts, instead focusing solely on the negatives or expressing dissatisfaction without providing constructive feedback.

Show gratitude for their hard work, offer praise when deserved, and communicate feedback in a constructive manner. This not only boosts morale but also cultivates a culture of continuous improvement.

9. Show Grace & Understanding for Honest Mistakes

In any professional endeavor, mistakes can happen, even with the most skilled and experienced contractors.

A good client understands this reality and approaches mistakes with grace and understanding. Instead of resorting to bullying tactics or blaming the contractor, acknowledge that no one is perfect.

Encourage open communication and a problem-solving mindset when addressing the mistake.

Remember that a responsible contractor who takes ownership of their errors and works towards rectifying them is a valuable asset to your project. By demonstrating empathy and offering support, you build a foundation of trust and encourage a positive working environment where both parties can learn and grow from their experiences.


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10. ATTN MEN: Watch for Misogynistic Behavior

It’s shocking that in 2023, I have to include this reminder. But, having been the recipient of repeat behaviors that I’m certain would not be directed at a male contractor, I do.

It is essential to ensure that all professional relationships are built on a foundation of respect and equality, especially if you are a male working with female contractors.

Guys, do a self check-in, especially during challenging interactions—are you treating your female contractor like you would treat a male contractor?

Women contractors deserve the same level of respect, professionalism, and courtesy as a man. Be mindful of your language, jokes, and comments, ensuring they are inclusive, supportive, dignified, and free from any form of sexism or discrimination.

Treat Your Contractors as You Want to Be Treated

If I were to simplify how to be a good client, it all boils down to the Golden Rule—treat your contractors as you want them to treat you.

The fact that you are paying a contractor does not put them in a subservient position. Being a good client requires cultivating a relationship based on mutual respect, open communication, and appreciation for their expertise and efforts.

By avoiding bullying behaviors and embracing a collaborative approach, you can create an environment that fosters creativity, productivity, and successful project outcomes.

By respecting boundaries, communicating effectively, and valuing their opinions, you contribute to a positive working dynamic that benefits both parties.

So, the next time you engage a contractor, be mindful of your behavior, recognize their expertise, and treat them as partners in achieving your vision. By being a good client, you not only enhance the quality of work you receive, but also contribute to a healthier and more fulfilling professional experience for everyone involved.

Let us all strive to create a culture of respect and professionalism in the client-contractor relationship, where mutual success and satisfaction are the ultimate goals.

About the author : Janet Doré

Janet Doré is the founder and CEO (Chief Everything Officer) of Scribaceous, Inc., a boutique design company specializing in branding & graphic design, IHubApp PWAs, WordPress websites, and optimized blog content. She is also the proud creator of the Hub Mama program where she trains and mentors those looking to grow their own freelance Hubmaster business.