I recently wrote an article for Williams-Sonoma’s Designer Marketplace blog about how, when and why to fire a client. I was inspired to write the piece after firing a client myself. Since I wrote publicly about the incident, it’s only fair to share a recent development in the story.
Things were pretty effed up there at the end of my working relationship with this particular client (“Brimstone” in the WS blog post). I’m not a person who thrives on drama, and while I pride myself on being able to maintain a certain level of professional detachment to a project, no amount of meditation could alleviate the Pavlovian distress I felt every time this client’s name popped up in my email inbox or appeared in my phone/text log. I never knew which of her polar personalities I would be dealing with at any given moment. There was no gray area with her…I was either the best thing since sliced bread or the most vilified person on the planet. While this client provided some of the most creative opportunities I’ve had in my professional career, the anxiety she provoked soon outweighed any creative fulfillment I could gain. So I finished her project as quickly as I could, waited for her to pay the final invoice and cut her loose.
My resignation from additional projects was not well received.
A sh!tstorm of raging emails were dumped into my que and I spent the next week constantly monitoring my Yelp listing, waiting for the negative review she’d threatened to write. I was still checking periodically a few months later. Such was the level of her venom.
Imagine my shock and awe when I received an email from her in early December. An apology.
I was stunned. Am still stunned. She was sorry for her behavior. She had been going through some stuff in her personal life that made her a little crazy. She wanted me to know how much she “love love loves the work” I did and how everyone who comes into the space raves about it.
It takes a lot of courage to fall on your sword like that. Not many people are willing to swallow the requisite amount of pride it takes to extend an olive branch after they have thoroughly and completely annihilated the bridge, but she did it and I am grateful.
Will I work with her again? No. I’m too badly burned to risk it. But it feels incredibly good to start the new year with a positive end to this story.