When writing blog posts for your company, you want to focus on the positive and highlight the ways you bring value to a client. Naturally, there’s hesitation to admit that behind the scenes, things don’t always go as planned and sometimes, you don’t have all the answers. Sometimes, we don’t get the job we were bidding for, a client may decide it’s time to part ways, or communication breaks down and it leads to confusion about meeting a deadline.
We’ve all heard some version of this quote:
A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing. – George Bernard Shaw
While this is nice on a motivational poster, in real life, when things don’t go as planned, it doesn’t feel honorable, it feels like failure. Especially for a perfectionist who shies away from difficult conversations… like me.
As much as I’d like to ignore the difficult conversations that can come with running my own business, when you’re the boss, that’s not an option. The much better approach (I’m very slowly learning) is to see each challenge as an opportunity to learn something so we don’t make the same mistake twice. These are just a few of the lessons I’ve learned over the past year through Ink & Well.
When communication breaks down, find out why. Things can get so busy when juggling client work that it can be hard to find the time to pause and address a communication failure. Better just to push through and on to the next deadline, right? Wrong. At the first sign of communication failure, jump in and address the issue.
Make a plan for future assignments
Don’t hesitate to call our a member of the team who may be the at the center of the breakdown
Letting communication issues go unaddressed is only a recipe for more trouble down the road. Likely, both parties are on the same page with the same desired end result, but the trouble lies in a murky communication handoff.
The customer is always right, right? Actually, wrong. If we’ve been hired to be an expert in an area – we must be the expert. If a client wants someone who agrees with every idea they come up with, then how can we truly be of service? This is hard for pleasing personalities. But it’s a lesson I must learn, adopt, and put into practice. When we’re in a client situation where a plan is truly out of place, it must be addressed, even if that means an uncomfortable conversation.
Don’t just walk away empty handed. If a situation with a client doesn’t work out or we don’t get the job, it’s more comfortable to walk away and assume it’s them, not us. While that may actually be true, it’s still worth it to have the conversation about what we could have done better.
What did the client love about our services?
What would they like to see changed?
If we’re parting on good terms, would they refer us to other clients?
These conversations can be so enlightening and informative, ultimately shaping us into better people and better service providers.
Be willing to change. It’s really hard to face constructive criticism positively, but when it’s shared by someone trustworthy, it is truly a gift. We don’t always want to acknowledge when it’s our turn to do things differently and it’s much easier to point the finger at the other party. But there are times when it’s really up to us to make a change or we’ll find ourselves in a cycle repeating bad habits. People won’t always tell you the truth, so if you find someone offering good advice on how to be a better company, be willing to listen.
Making mistakes, failure, getting it wrong… whatever you call it, it’s never fun. But it can be really useful. Keep in mind that if you are never failing, you are never trying. As cliche as that sounds, it’s real. And trying is always better than hiding for fear of failure.