How to Handle Pushy Clients and Customers

Pushy customers and clients can make a bad day worse, and they have the uncanny ability to raise your stress levels from manageable to “I quit” in no time at all. Pushy clients want things done their way, they want something for nothing, they want you on-call 24/7, and they want projects completed on their timeline.

Their demands aren’t always reasonable, and catering to these types of clients can not only make you unhappy, but it can also put your business in danger. Think about it: If you cave under the pressure of a pushy client’s bullying today, what do you think their expectations will be for tomorrow?

Instead, of conforming to their unreasonable expectations, follow the tips below to help maintain some semblance of balance in your relationship with these unbearable clients:

Make your expectations clear at all stages.

One of the most important things you can do in a business relationship with a pushy or demanding customer is to make your expectations known. Oftentimes, the reason that a client becomes pushy in the first place is because they were never made aware of any clear boundaries in the relationship.

This is one of the reasons why a contract is so important in a business agreement. A contract affords you something to fall back on when a pushy client becomes unreasonable. Rather than having to explain all the reasons why you can’t or won’t do what they want, you can simply cite the agreement you made in the beginning of your relationship. With some clients, you’ll probably have to do this regularly, but it’s still an effective argument.

Stand your ground. Then strike a deal (but only if you want to).

It’s very important to be consistent in your relationship with pushy clients. These are the type of people, after all, who will search with dedication for any way to bully, bribe, or cajole you into doing what they want, so if you give them an opening, they will latch onto it and try their hardest to make it wider. (The saying, “If you give them an inch, they’ll take a mile” is usually alarmingly accurate with these types of clients.)

Don’t be afraid, though, to make a deal with these clients, as long as you can benefit from it in some way. There’s nothing wrong with making an exception if that exception makes sense. Just avoid adhering to unfair terms, as this only reinforces the client’s idea that the relationship can operate as a “one-way street.”

So if you do choose to make an exception to your agreement, be sure that the client knows exactly what your reasoning is. Make sure they understand that you do not make a habit out of such behavior, and reinforce the fact that despite this exception, you will still be adhering to the agreed-upon rules in the future.

Don’t make threats.

Finally, avoid threatening the client. It’s understandable that so many people are tempted to emulate the customer’s pushy behavior when dealing with them. After all, if the customer expects others to respond to the behavior, then it stands to reason that they probably respond to it themselves, right?

In actuality, though, such tactics usually backfire. In addition to being wholly unprofessional, bullying and threatening also tend to make pushy clients even harder to deal with. This type of behavior transforms your entire relationship with the client into a power struggle, rather than the mutually beneficial agreement you intended it to be. Such a relationship model can usually not be maintained, so instead of threats, use the assertive deal-making method described above.

Pushy and demanding clients can be very stressful to work with, but there are ways to deal with their behavior. The methods above should help you to avoid getting bullied, and in time, some clients may even respond to your behavior by changing their own.

Photo credits (top to bottom): Photo 1 © mark yuill / Fotolia. Photo 2 © diego cervo / Fotolia. Photo 3 © endostock / Fotolia. Photo 4 © auremar / Fotolia.


  1. Well done article! Getting a few clients who are really pushing their luck. I run two businesses, one of them internet marketing and the other being computer repair. Sometimes the customers are phoning me up at 9am on a Sunday, pushing for faster computer repairs etc. Drives me nuts!! I shouldn’t have to buy two phones in an effort to use one solely for business. It’s ridiculous

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