Small Business, Big Numbers
An Accountant's Guide to Landing and Keeping Small Business Clients

Chapter 3: How to Avoid Lawsuits from Small Business Clients
Part 4: Avoiding Lawsuits by Managing Emotions and Egos

Understand the emotional investment owners have in their businesses and finances. For many, their business is their life. Emotions and ego are naturally going to play a part in that, so be aware of it.

Numbers may be the most important part of your business, but remember the people driving those numbers. When you have to deliver bad news, remember the communication tips we discussed earlier. Cushioning and tact can soften the blow and appease an angry client. Sure, it's not your job to be someone's therapist. At the same time, keeping a cool head and showing a little empathy can help you navigate a tense situation.

When dealing with an upset client, it may be helpful to…

  1. Listen and let them vent.
  2. Acknowledge the frustration and apologize (even if it's not your fault, apologize for the frustration).
  3. Offer solutions.

On the other hand, know when a client is a liability to you. Irrational decisions fueled by recklessness or anger can make whatever you're getting from the client not worth the trouble. Sometimes dropping them from your clientele (gracefully, of course) is the best option. For more tips on handling charged professional interactions, check out the Forbes article "Keeping the Peace: How to Deal with an Angry Client New browser window icon.."

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Listening to upset clients and acknowledging their frustration can ease a tense situation.

Next: Part 5: Professional Liability Insurance: A Last Line of Defense

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