I’m not in the business of making people happy
Your client hired you because you are the expert at what you do. They are the expert at the thing they do. And you have been brought in to add your expertise to the client’s expertise to help them accomplish their goal.[…] What they didn’t hire you to do is make them happy, or be their friend. Your decisions should revolve around achieving that goal, not pleasing the client. And while you should do everything in a professional and pleasing manner, never conflate helping the client achieve their goal with making them happy.
They will ask you to do things that run counter, in your expertise, to achieving the goal. Your job is to convince them otherwise. In the end, they will be better served if you see yourself as the expert they believe they hired. And while this may result in some unpleasant conversations during the project, having unpleasant conversations is sometimes part of the job. Doing the wrong thing to avoid an unpleasant conversation doesn’t do either of you any favors in the long run.
Mike Monteiro has a great no-nonsense way of explaining this stuff.
This, to me, is one of the biggest struggles of many client relationships. I’ve had those unpleasant conversations, but I haven’t always been successful in convincing my client that what will make them happy runs counter to what will make the project successful. And the old adage “the customer is always right” never works in a consulting relationship. The whole point of hiring a consultant is to fill in the areas that you don’t know. If you then override your consultant’s expertise with your own personal tastes, you run the risk of diminishing the success of the project.