Another post based on social media conversations (might be a subtle hint that I need to get off social media for a bit)…
I saw a status about swearing in front of clients – whether face to face, over email, or over the phone – and whether it’s acceptable.
Part of the conversation was; ‘well, sod it – that’s how I am. If they can’t take it, that’s their problem: I’m just being me’ (or words to that effect).
I completely get that stance. My default mode of communication is relaxed, scattered with colloquialisms, and maybe the odd f-bomb thrown in… but, with a client, I would only be like this if I was sure we were on friendly / less formal terms.
Generally, I’m a happy-go-lucky chap, a bit cheeky, and matey with people. I like to have more of a friendship with my clients than an outright client-supplier relationship: it makes the brief more enjoyable for all and allows for more honest feedback.
However … if I can sense that my client is slightly more conservative, or averse to the use of colloquialisms and/or swearing, I’m not going to lose a whole project just over my stubborn refusal not to rein in my use of f-bombs. That’d just be silly.
If you have to be slightly more reserved for a bit, to work with a particular client, then so be it: you’re not being asked to forgo oxygen for a month, or not wash.
Another status I saw, centred around having to wear a suit / smart dress to be taken seriously, as a professional.
Again, I don’t really subscribe to this. To my mind, the type of cloth you cover your body with does not dictate – in any way, shape, or form – how good you are at your job.
You don’t suddenly lose all of your qualifications, credentials, and experience off the back of wearing a t-shirt.
I don’t take someone any more seriously if they’re wearing a suit. I just see it as another item of clothing.
When a client hires me, if I give them fantastic content at the end of the week, do you really think they care (or know) that I did it in my pants?
‘Sorry, I’ll have to hand this back to you, and I demand my money back. It’s good, but I think you wrote it while you were in your boxers’ … said no client, ever.
In fact, for what I do, if I went to an ad agency (let’s say, for an interview for a contract/full time position) wearing a suit, as a creative copywriter, they’d think I was odd and didn’t know the industry very well.
But… if I’m looking to work with a client – perhaps in professional services – who like to see their suppliers in smart dress, then I’ll wear a shirt and tie. Why would I steadfastly refuse to do so, fail to impress them, and lose out on working with them? … just because I was adamant that I like to dress casual.
My point is – yes, it’s great to be ‘you’, but not to the extent where you shoot yourself in the foot. If you stand to lose business, then do the smart thing: rein it in a bit.