Why you shouldn’t work with people you don’t respect

A service provider recently asked what they should do in this situation:

A high-profile client doesn’t treat them well, doesn’t pay them well, and micromanages. A large part of the service provided is outside of the scope of what the provider normally does. The service provider is concerned that she “needs” the paycheck to save for a dream goal.

She also stated that this client has become demanding enough that the stress and workload are affecting her ability to provide value to her other clients. She isn’t sure if she should continue working with him, but is concerned about this client’s high profile and the damage he could do to her reputation if he so chose. She is also considering outsourcing just the work she doesn’t typically do, but keeping him as a client and managing the outsourced work.

Don't work with people you don't respect. | strategysarah.com
The question, summarized here for confidentiality, made a few things clear:

  • The service provider doesn’t respect or like the client
  • The work isn’t the service provider’s ideal work
  • The income isn’t needed to pay regular bills
  • The service provider fears the client is taking away from other clients and opportunities

The bottom line: As a service provider, if you don’t respect a client, you shouldn’t be working with them. 

Once that decision is made, the question becomes simply how and when that happens. You can always find a way to “break up” with a client respectfully.

In this situation, my recommendation was to finish the work currently under contract, and to communicate to the client that she was not available for additional contracts. There is no upside to continuing to work with the client in any capacity. Outsourcing the task only solves one of the problems, but keeps the stress level high and continues work with a client where there is not respect.

If it was the service provider’s ideal work, or if she needed the client to pay regular bills, I would have recommended setting a longer timeline to make the change. In that time, she would have developed a clear plan to replace that income, so the immediate financial risk was eliminated or reduced.

Have you worked with clients or service provides you didn’t respect? How do you handle these situations? 

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