If you work as a designer, whether you are freelance or directly employed by a company, you will most likely have to deal with difficult clients (or bosses) at some stage. In a fast-paced environment, tricky customers may actually become something you handle regularly.
Communication is usually a major problem here, because typically a client will have ideas and requirements for their design, but lack the required skills to bring these to life. That’s why they need your services, after all. The problem is that a non-professional needs to explain what they want from their design, and later, the professional often has to explain to them why they have made certain decisions and why certain things may not be possible. This can lead to a lot of tension, and not all clients will handle this well.
The best solution for communication problems is usually to try and keep all communication channels as open and transparent as possible. As a designer, you need to make sure that you and the client have an agreed method for contacting each other, and a suitable alternative is arranged if this doesn’t work out. Make sure you keep records of everything that has been discussed and agreed so you can refer back to these notes if necessary.
You also need to make sure that you always complete you work to the best of your abilities, and try to fulfil every reasonable request the client has made. You need to maintain your reputation for being a great designer, regardless of the circumstances of one particular job, plus the best way to get the client to trust you is to do a fantastic job.
Of course, a potential drawback to completing your work to a very high standard is that you might make everything look a little too easy. When you deal with the client, make sure they appreciate the work and expertise you have put in. You can explain things to them in enough depth to make sure they understand the complex nature of their demands, although there is no point over-explaining because you are the only one who needs to really know how you work.
Throughout this entire process, one of the most important things to remember is to stay professional. The only way you will be able to salvage the relationship, even if they speak to you in an inappropriate way, is if you avoid doing the same thing. Keep all your communications polite and simply try to remind them of what you are trying to do, and why. Sometimes clients need to be reminded that you are the professional for a reason, and you are only acting in the best interests of the project.