Knowing When to Walk it In


I’ve always been baffled by the fact that there are people out there who will pay excellent money to ignore you.

Pretty much every consultant or freelancer I’ve ever met can tell you their story of the client who hired them, only to completely ignore all of their suggestions.

Confusing stuff.


I’ve speculated as to why this keeps happening to so many people, and here’s what I’ve come up with:

  • The client is scared of change.
    Sometimes, you show people the future and they recoil in horror because it’s unfamiliar to them. I mean, if you managed to show a caveman a shakeweight, he’d probably spontaneously combust. You can’t really help this – some folks are just stuck in their ways.
  • The client wanted a worker bee, not a brain.
    They pay lip service to the idea of loving your work and your perspective, but what they really love is their own perspective. To these folks, you’re just a pair of hands.
  • The client is a control freak.
    Their need to own the situation usurps their rational brain and leaves them making totally idiotic decisions for the sake of feeling like they’re sitting behind the wheel.
  • The client is actually insane.
    Stark, raving mad, cupping powdered margarita mix into their mouths by the handful while bathing in a tub full of sour cream and high heels.

I’m sure there are other reasons – red tape, lack of information, internal conflicts, and so on, and so on.

The truth is, there’s only one solution to this problem: Learning when to walk it in.

It’s tough. You’re a perfectionist. You can see the potential. You know the client is making a mistake. You know your way will get the better result. You want to use this as a case study. You needed this for your portfolio.

There’s certainly a time and place to hold your ground. Sometimes, the client doesn’t “get it” because you didn’t explain it well. Fix that.

And sometimes, the client doesn’t trust you because you haven’t given them the rationale. Do that.

But if they won’t listen to reason, I always tell clients,

“You’re paying me to give you my best advice. At one point, you trusted I’d give it to you. I know this might not be what you want to hear, but based on my expertise, I don’t recommend doing what you’re asking me to do.”

In my head, what that really says is,

“Are you allergic to making money?”

But, at some point, it’s best to just shut up, get paid and walk it in. Some people cannot be helped; there’s no point in putting yourself through hell or letting the project drag on and on to try.

Just give ’em what they want. The dumb, flawed, backwards-ass thing they’re fighting you for.

And then walk it in.

All the way to the bank.


Photo Credit: 橡皮精RubberPixy via Compfight cc

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