I am sitting here on a plane returning home after a full day of meetings in Johannesburg.  After being extremely stressed this morning (because I am a stress bunny and want everything to be perfect), I am feeling much more relaxed and the tiredness is starting to kick in.

What I can be grateful for is that the meeting went well.  Decisions were made and the client seems to be happy.  But why was I so stressed this morning?  And why is this stress a regular participant in my life?

Part of the reason for my stress is the fact that this client is a bit tricky.  I never quite know where I stand and never feel that what I do is good enough.  If I had a choice, I would not work with clients like this, but there are a few lessons to be learnt here.

The first is that most times you cannot choose your clients and you need to learn to work with what you’ve got. 

The second is to believe in your capabilities as a professional.  If you believe in yourself, it doesn’t really matter what the client thinks at the end of the day.  If you know you can deliver a good service and that you know your product inside and out, you are the expert, not the client. 

Some days I feel like I just cannot work with this client anymore.  But, there’s too much riding on this project, so I have to make it work and have to put my head down and go for it.

It’s hard to always walk in with a smile when you feel this way, but it’s so important.  Clients need to see the smile and the passion in your eyes.  Your mouth and face can smile, but if your eyes are sad, people can tell that the smile is not genuine.

So what are my remedies to get through a stressful situation and face up to people that I feel I can’t trust?

  1. Believe in myself and my capabilities – I have been organising conferences for 26 years and this is all that I do. I really do know what I am doing.
  2. Give myself a pep talk (out loud if necessary) to reinforce my belief in myself.
  3. Breathe deeply for a few minutes with my eyes closed – this helps to calm my stress, clear my head and lower my pulse.
  4. Say a small prayer – hand the situation over to God. He always gives me the strength to get through the situation and helps me figure it out.
  5. Make a checklist of priorities and write them down – this gives me a solid strategy to constantly fall back on. Throughout the meeting I can then refer to my checklist and remain consistent.
  6. Keep a smile on my face – and make sure my eyes are smiling too. Connecting with a client as a person goes a long way towards earning their trust and breaking down barriers.

So next time you have a stressful meeting, give these steps a try.  You may be surprised at how well it goes!