Last week I led a call in which the Client team – to help bring me up to speed on the project – reeled off the extensive list of open issues. Every single one of these issues needed to be resolved by me and my team. There was a pause as I finished scribbling everything down. I looked at my page full of actions, took a deep breath and announced “This is super annoying, isn’t it?”
I know it might seem counter intuitive to make this type of comment to a Client in a tense situation but I believe it can be very progressive. It demonstrates that you truly feel the burden to the Client, and therefore will work with urgency to rectify the situation, and it immediately changes the tone of the call which helps to get the relationship back on track.
I was glad when the Client team erupted into laughter and then started joking that “annoying” was perhaps a polite term for how they were feeling. We closed the call all feeling much lighter and more positive about the situation. (And, in the event the Client team is reading this, I confirm I’m getting back to work, pronto!)