Last week, I wrote about some of the things clients say that frustrate freelancers.

But when it comes to client-freelancer relations, clients aren’t the only ones who say the darndest things. Freelancers are guilty of saying plenty of things that rightfully frustrate clients. Here are five of them.

“I can’t do that.”

Clients can be demanding, and sometimes they ask for things that they probably shouldn’t. But the last thing a client wants to hear is “We can’t do that“. Most of the time, it’s a substitute for “That’s going to be really hard and I’d rather not do it” and clients know that.

If a client proposes something that you legitimately feel is overly complex, explain why the client should reconsider and most importantly, suggest an alternative solution. In the process, you’ll come across as even more competent instead of downright lazy.

“That’s going to be expensive.”

Sometimes when a client asks for something that’s complex, a lazy or inexperienced freelancer will provide this response instead of “We can’t do that“. Unfortunately, it’s a poor substitute.

Again, explaining to the client what’s involved with delivering what he’s asking for is the best approach. Most reasonable clients, once informed, will naturally understand that complex work comes at a greater cost. And if that cost is a problem, they can decide to take another route.

“Sorry for the delay but I’m working on other projects.”

As a freelancer, it’s expected that you’re doing work for multiple clients. But it’s also expected that you’re capable of managing your own schedule in such a way that you’ll be able to fulfill your obligations and meet deadlines. If you’ve taken on too much and it’s starting to become a problem deadline-wise, a client needs more than an apology. He needs you to describe how you’re going to rectify the situation.

“I know you asked for [x], but I thought it would be better to do [y].”

Every client just loves the freelancer who decides to go off the reservation. Oftentimes, this happens when a freelancer underestimates the work involved with doing a particular task and tries to accomplish it in a way that’s more favorable to his schedule and budget.

Unfortunately, it’s unprofessional to take another route before addressing it with a client. If, for any reason, you think that you should do y instead of x, bring it up with the client and explain why. If you’re working on a fixed price quote and so greatly underestimated the amount of work involved that you can’t eat the difference, the best bet is to be honest and try to negotiate a reasonable compromise. One that doesn’t ask the client to pay full price for your mistake.

“What was that?”

If you deal with enough freelancers, you’ll inevitably hear this. A common reason: some freelancers have a habit of trying to remember what they’re supposed to do instead of say, writing it down. So they complete 90% of the project and leave you to explain (for the second time) the other 10%.

The easiest solution: write every client request down and confirm them with the client via email or at the end of each conference call. It will not only prevent a few client headaches, it will make you more efficient.

Client-freelancer relationships are a two-way street. At the end of the day, clients write the checks and no matter how difficult clients can make life, freelancers should respect that and avoid the above statements.

Photo credit: Zach Klein via Flickr.