I am tired. I have been up for the past two nights until about 1 am trying to finish projects for clients and writing content for my website. I am also a bit under the weather, as I seem to have a sore throat and headache that just won’t go away. I can tell you such things. I can also tell my family when I am sick or tired, or even when I am just down in the dumps. I can tell my friends when things are not going right. There are a lot of people I can tell, but there is one very important group of people who never need to know, or even should know, when I am sick, tired, down or frazzled – my clients.
It is always important to remember that even when your clients are your friends, they are not your friends when they are your clients. Clients are a special class of people. They are people who want to give you money for your time, talent and energy. They do not want to know when you are tired because, by implication, they are contributing to your fatigue. They do not want to know when you are not feeling well or you down in the dumps because that means that they are not necessarily getting your best work. They do not want to know when anything bad is happening in your universe.
Your clients are special. You need to insulate your clients from every negative aspect of your life just as if you were always on a first date and doing your best to ensure a second date. If you are going to have a successful experience with your clients, there are a lot of subjects you need to avoid and they include:
Politics: Your clients do not need to know whether you are a Democrat, Republican or anything else. Do not offer that information. If your client asks you your political leanings, answer truthfully but briefly. If you can describe yourself as a moderate, do so. Of course, if you find out that your client supports a particular candidate or issue, and you actually support the candidate or your client’s position as well, you can talk about that candidate or issue. Just do not get too zealous.
Religion: As with politics, it is generally not a good idea to talk about religion outside of your church. If your client asks you to which house of worship you belong, you can answer truthfully but never get into a debate over the merits of one faith over another, even if your client tries to do so.
Gossip: Whether you live in a small town or a large city, it is never professional to gossip. If your client knows that you will gossip about other people, your client also knows that you will gossip about him or her.
Regrets: Whether you love your job or hate your job, your client needs to believe that you love it. Talking about career decisions that you regret or unpleasant things that you have to do for your job will not instill in your client any sense of confidence in you. Whatever you may have to do, do it with a smile.
Sex: In the work place, we are all gender neutral, sexless beings. At least that is how it should be. Keep it that way and you cannot run into problems.
What other subjects do you feel should be taboo when speaking with clients or customers? Have you ever had a conversation with a client that you regret? Have any people you have hired ever brought up subjects that you feel were inappropriate.