How to Deal With Difficult Clients
Written by Alexandra Chauran. Copyright(c) 2008.
As soon as she picked up the phone, she knew that this was not going to be a good call. She was a psychic, after all. Almost right off the bat, the client was combative. When she asked him what questions he would like answered, he shot back that she should know since she was a psychic and interjected that he already thought she was a fake. She was hurt to her core. After all, this was her true calling in life. Carrying on, the telephone conversation became more abusive, degenerating into a session of name-calling and the client yelling at the top of his lungs and slamming the phone down.
After the call, the psychic was physiologically shaken. She could feel her hands trembling and her heart pounding. She knew she could give no more good readings at the moment. She immediately stopped taking calls in order to recover from the experience. Her initial, subjective experience wasn't all. This client was able to leave a rating for her through the site on which she was working, and she knew the rating wouldn't be good. The psychic stayed logged off all that day. The next day, not only did she not want to be victimized again, but she knew that the bad rating of her would drive away clients. Again, she took a day off of work. By the end of the week, she had given up her dream job.
This story may be a bit exaggerated, but it is not unheard of, and elements of it can be recognized by all experienced psychics. To new psychics, I am proud to say that most of the clients in our industry are absolute treats to work with. However, since burn-out is the number one reason that I've seen psychics leave the business, it does not behoove new psychics to pretend that a negative experience with a client will never happen. I will examine how to deal with a negative client before, during and after the encounter, so that not only will the experience not turn you off from the best job in the world, but perhaps the experience will help you become a better psychic. I've used the acronym "AUM," the universal sound of peace, to help you remember to stay calm and use the encounter for your own personal gain throughout the experience.
Of course, the ultimate avoidance is to not give readings at all, so I'd like to briefly acknowledge that being a psychic is not a job for everyone. Performing readings in person has the least incidence of negative client interactions, in my experience, but it is not entirely without them, either. When you begin to give readings by telephone or on the Internet, especially through a network that does not screen clients, you will open yourself up to a whole new world of people, good and bad. Choose carefully whether this is a line of work you can both handle and enjoy handling! Many psychics choose only to work with clients in-person, but if you decide you're up for the challenge of telephone or on-line work, the first thing you should do is, when writing your profile, include any types of readings that you do not perform. If you don't believe in angels, are not a medical intuitive and you cannot find lost objects or give exact time-frames, state this openly in your biography and safe yourself and clients a lot of heartache. New people, raise your prices! New psychics often undercut other psychics, just slightly, so that they have an edge in call volume. However, there are those out there in the world who find it amusing or fulfilling in some way to hire a low-priced psychic just to give a bad rating or to be aggressive during the call. If you raise your price to a respectable amount befitting a professional, you will get more clients who are serious about having a positive reading experience with you.
Remain professional at all times! Do not resort to name calling, sarcasm or a raised tone of voice. As soon as you know that you are unable to help a client, either before or after you are hired, be honest and let the client know so that he or she can end the session early. For example, if the client repeatedly insists that he or she wants good news and you aren't seeing that good news, then let him or her know that you don't feel you'll be able to give the client a positive reading experience. If the client does not choose to end the session and continues to berate you, attempt to turn it into an information gathering session for yourself. Allow the client to vent, as this may be the purpose that drove the client to call in the first place. Indeed, I have sometimes earned high ratings from angry clients simply by keeping a cool head and accepting any responsibility I could. Apologize for the reading experience not being positive, as that was truly not your intent, and ask the client how he or she might suggest you improve yourself as a reader. If you have the ability, you can offer to refund the client his or her money or ask how you can make it right, although I advise against posting a refund policy openly as that may attract less than honest people who never intend on paying for a reading. If the company for which you are working has a rating system, don't mention it during the session. Understand that, if you choose to work with such a system, part of your job description is going to be that you are a "punching bag" for ratings. As mentioned before, there are people out there who purchase readings just to give bad ratings, and you are satisfying that need by simply working with that system. If you cannot handle that, it is important to be honest with yourself when choosing which systems under which you will and will not work, so go back to the Avoidance stage if you find yourself continuously bringing up ratings with your employer!
This part is not just going back to the "Avoidance" stage and beginning again! Though I recognize that you may need some down time after such a conflict, it is important to make this stage constructive rather than destructive to your career goals. As soon as possible after the encounter and in a confidential way, take notes on what happened. Include contributing factors leading up to the event and quote comments made by the client. In fact, you may wish to begin this practice with exceptionally good calls, too, so that you can observe your strengths and your weaknesses more accurately. If you work for a company, notify your superior about what happened so that you can gain extra assistance from a mentor if available and so that the client can be noted in case a pattern of reader abuse develops. Next, settle down and reflect on how you can improve as a reader. Even if the feedback from the client is outrageously untrue, there may be hidden nuggets of truth, or there may be ways that you might have been unconsciously encouraging those incorrect perceptions. Is there anything you could have done to Avoid or Understand that client more effectively? Brainstorm and write down wild guesses as to what you can do differently. Make sure that you write "SMART" goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) for next time. Yes, I do mean next time, because what comes after this is the hardest part. As soon as possible after you have physiologically recovered from the encounter, make yourself available and take on a new client. In your very next session, put at least one of your new goals into practice. Even if this isn't your best reading of your career, the aim is to make it more positive than your last.
The good thing about being a professional psychic is that you often are a lone wolf, working on your own without anyone looking over your shoulder and judging you. The bad thing about being a professional psychic is that you are often alone, without anyone sitting by your side and helping you! Ratings are a poor substitute for personal accountability, so just as you might think that running screaming for the hills is a bad reaction to a difficult client, simply shrugging off the negative reading experience is much worse! There is a dearth of professional standards within the psychic industry, which may be part of the problem with a growing group of unsatisfied clients who become difficult during a session. If you've been victimized by a difficult client, you may have unwittingly become part of the problem. It is time for each of us to take intentional steps to become part of the solution with a grassroots effort towards improvement as individuals and as an industry!