Never promise anything to a client unless you have full knowledge of the subject matter. Delay, research and getting back to them as soon as possible are more preferable than an impossible promise.
Let us explore a little further the consequences to the business that has been bullied into accepting a contract for work that will prove to be, if not impossible, then at the very least extremely difficult.
The same or similar results, as we shall see, can occur should an uninformed colleague make promises to a client without fully appreciating the details of the subject matter. Indeed, ignorance and arrogance can cause untold havoc within the business organisation.
Analysis of the requirements reveals that they are either unrealistic or flawed in such a way that they will be virtually impossible to fulfil, at least not within any agreed time frame and to budget.
How did this happen? The business that has been bullied into the contract or, a not very popular, colleague has bitten off more then they could chew. Either way it isn’t going to end well. The sad thing is that, certainly for the first reason, it could have been avoided completely by maintaining a good relationship with the client. See “I can relate to that”. In this case, the client would never have even tried to bully the business into accepting their unrealistic proposals.
For the ignorant and/or over enthusiastic colleague the solution is not so obvious. It very much depends on the personalities involved. If you have a good relationship with the client you might be able to renegotiate the deal but they won’t be happy.
Training and education are the only ways to overcome over enthusiasm. It is never a negative to respectfully decline from giving detailed answers and making promises until you are comfortable to do so. There is no such thing as losing face in business. Better to delay, research and return with the correct answers rather that take a wild guess.
Once aware of this situation, do not ever just accept it with good grace and try and make the best of it. You will not be successful; at best you may lose some money. At worst, not only will money be lost but other clients will also suffer indirectly as you may have to pull in resources to try and limit the damage.
Things can so easily spiral out of control and the impact on the business can rapidly become significant. So, before any of this has the chance to take place, kill these situations immediately. Better to have a difficulty with a client because you did not or could not provide a service. Rather than, completely destroying your relationship, good or bad, with your client due to non-delivered services after a long delay.
Trust in your ability to talk reasonably with your clients. Apologise but don’t grovel, grovelling is a sure fire way to lose respect. Remain professional at all times and never, ever raise your voice: either to the client or to the colleague or colleagues that caused the problem in the first place.
If one person can remain calm and professional then no matter how angry a person is they will calm down and also begin to react in a more professional manner. Here we can see human nature in action again. Imagine ranting away at a colleague for some hypothetical reason but they remain calm, answering your questions and responding to your accusations in a professional manner. Very quickly you begin to feel quite foolish, an argument only works, only ever makes sense if more than one person is involved. If one side refuses to take part then the anger and the argument rapidly dissipates.
This is just one small, but extremely important, communication skill, which should be taught to every single person from an early age. But, never too late to start learning, are you listening those ranting bullying managers out there? You can find a lot more on manager-managed relations and communications skills in another article. Enough said.