Five Topics You Should Never Discuss With Clients

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.

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10 Responses to Five Topics You Should Never Discuss With Clients

  1. Carol says:

    In general, I don’t talk to anyone about politics or religion.

    I’m working with a younger (just out of high school) adult and am teaching him professionalism, time management and basically what it’s like to work at a job (no concept of these thigns whatsoever). These are all good points to bring up to him too.

    One thing I did bring up with him, and although it’s not a conversation piece, it’s equally important: your social network pages. Talking about being out all night partying is not what your boss (or clients) want to read about!

  2. Sarah says:

    I always find it in bad taste to talk negatively about others in your profession or other companies in general. For example, I moved out of state and went to visit a dentist. This guy went on and on about how my orthodontist in the previous state made horrible decisions about my treatment. Even though I agreed with him to a point, I was just disgusted with his reaction! He went as far as to call him an idiot. It hurt my feelings as well because I paid this so-called idiot. Anyway, I did not go back and found a dentist with a more pro-active attitude.

  3. M E 2 says:

    CAROL said: “In general, I don

  4. baselle says:

    Substitute Clients with Co workers, and that would be advice that I live by at my day job.

  5. Ann says:

    In general, I agree, but there can be exceptions… like with any rule.

    There are people I’ve known for decades that have also been co-workers and clients. Some forbidden subjects do end up coming up for discussion, but, in those cases, you need to be extra sensitive to any which can push buttons.

    Take religion. I’ve worked with some very religious people and the subject has come up. I generally give the short answer — very spiritual, but anti-organized religion. If they can accept that, we can have some really interesting dialogues. If they can’t, I avoid the subject and just smile, if they bring it up. I appreciate that their beliefs work for them and am fascinated by various rituals and beliefs, but I’m not up for arguing with them about the state of my soul. LOL

    I like Carol’s comment about the social networking pages. It’s an important point to bring up with young people, as is limiting personal calls during working hours. I’ve had staff who thought it was totally appropriate to spend hours on the phone with friends and then complained about there not being enough time to get their work done!

    Know some young people who should be reading your article! :-)

  6. Sex is the biggest, most explosive time bomb, always has been between clients and advisors. But, what do we do to control it, Once it starts?

    John DeFlumeri Jr.

  7. EF Cussins says:

    My dad taught me a good work ethic and professionalism when dealing with clients. Of course he was not big on the social networking thing. That I have had to learn on my own.

  8. Bob Farmer says:

    Excellant advice, easy to forget.


  9. I’ve always subscribed to the philosophy that you’ll be happy at work if 1) you believe in what you do 2) enjoy who you do it with and 3) feel you are fairly compensated for doing it.

    I have a lot of long-term coworkers, and I’ve found our relationships to be much more rewarding when we share more intimate details of our lives. When someone asks me what I did over the weekend, I have no problem answering “went to church” or “had to ground a child”. Recently, in fact, they’ve been quite helpful in getting me through some difficult parenting situations. They came to my wedding and I go to their kids’ band events.

    While it is -safest- to keep your coworkers at arms distance, the right coworkers can also turn into great friends.

  10. Scott A.Epler says:

    every single topic you cover here is 100% true and should be followed one thing that You need to instill in your client is confidence and any negativity Obsrved by the client could result in your account termination or very rocky relations!

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