Recorded: Welcome to The ReWork with Allison Tyler Jones, a podcast dedicated to inspiring portrait photographers to uniquely brand, profitably price, and confidently sell their best work. Allison has been doing just that for the last 15 years and she’s proven that it’s possible to create unforgettable art and run a portrait business that supports your family and your dreams. All it takes is a little rework. Episodes will include interviews with experts from in and outside of the photo industry, many workshops, and behind the scenes secrets that Allison uses in her portrait studio every single day. She will challenge your thinking and inspire your confidence to create a profitable, sustainable portrait business you love through continually refining and reworking your business. Let’s do the rework.

Allison Tyler Jones: Hi friends, and welcome back to The ReWork. Today, Jessica Mackey is joining me in The ReWork podcast studio to discuss difficult people, or is it just difficult situations that we find ourselves in with people? Well, regardless, we are going to talk about four lifesaving hacks that we have for dealing with difficult situations or difficult people that work every single time, and I know you’re going to love it. So get a pencil and a paper and take some notes. This one’s going to have a lot of really good words that you can use in your own business. Let’s do it.

Jessica Mackey: Hi, this is Jessica. I am here with Allison Tyler Jones, and we are talking about something that I think a lot of photographers or small business owners can relate to, and that is the four lifesaving hacks for dealing with difficult people. Now we just as easily could have called this hacks for dealing with difficult situations because sometimes it’s great clients and just difficult situations that we don’t know how to handle, and that can scare the pants off of us. So we have four things that we use constantly.

Allison Tyler Jones: Hi.

Jessica Mackey: Hi.

Allison Tyler Jones: I love it when you intro. So fun. Okay so let’s talk about difficult situations slash difficult people. So what are some of those things in your mind?

Jessica Mackey: Well, for me, especially when I was client coordinator and dealing with clients on a regular basis, sometimes you just had clients that were upset. Now they either called or you’d get an inflammatory email or a text message, and just the tone of it, you could tell they were upset. Now it might have been about the cost of something. It might have been about…

Allison Tyler Jones: Something’s gone wrong.

Jessica Mackey: Yes. Things burned down or a past client that had something happen to an image and they’re like, “I don’t know what to do about this.” So you just have those moments that your gut clenches and you just want to get in the ball and tune the world out, but you can’t. You have to deal with this situation.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right. So one of the first things I think that happens when you get the nasty email, or the text, or maybe it’s a phone call and you actually answered the phone and somebody’s mad, I feel like the number one hack is to buy time.

Jessica Mackey: I agree.

Allison Tyler Jones: Because I think when we just go off the first thing that comes off the top of your head is defense.

Jessica Mackey: Right, because you’re in panic mode.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right. So it gets defensive quick.

Jessica Mackey: You’re thinking this person is upset at me.

Allison Tyler Jones: How can I not be in trouble? How can I not be in trouble? How can I make this person like me? How can I have them not hate me and not talk bad about me to everybody and go online and give me a bad review and we just go straight to DEFCON one and the world is burning down. When we’re in that fear place, we’re not usually coming up with our best responses.

Jessica Mackey: Well, also we typically are coming out. I mean, if someone is calling us, texting us, emailing, we’ve been doing something else.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jessica Mackey: So we’re coming from a unprepared mindset, whether we just came out of a shoot, we’re in car line with the kids, wherever you are, you probably don’t have the head space to transition to how do I solve this problem.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right. Lying in bed, scrolling Instagram, and then something pops up on your phone.

Jessica Mackey: Yeah. You get the DM.

Allison Tyler Jones: So I think what happens in that instance is we tend to freeze. So I think the number one hack is to buy yourself some time. It’s easy for me to buy time because you are usually the one, or Kaitlyn, or Stacy’s the one that’s taking the call, and they can easily just say, “Let me talk to Allison and get back to you.” Even if you already know the answer to that, you can say, “Let me talk to Allison and I’ll get back to you,” and that buys you all kinds of time.

Jessica Mackey: Right.

Allison Tyler Jones: Even if you already know the answer and you hang up, and you don’t talk to me, and then you call her back and say that you did.

Jessica Mackey: Right.

Allison Tyler Jones: You could do that, right?

Jessica Mackey: Right. Absolutely and I have done it.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yes, exactly. So what if you’re a solo printer and you don’t have anybody else? I don’t think there’s anything wrong, and I did this before when I was the only person in my business, to just say, “You know what? Let me look into that. I will check on it and see what happened and I’ll get back to you.”

Jessica Mackey: Absolutely, and even if you know what happened, even if you have all the answers, like you said, you maybe just need to take a breath.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jessica Mackey: You need to get yourself in a calm head space and then address the situation.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. Let me check that. Let me check on that.

Jessica Mackey: I think that really, the same things happen or a lot of times both things are happening in a conversation with our first hack, which is to buy time, and our second hack, which is to validate.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yes.

Jessica Mackey: Because they want to be heard.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right. So number one, buy time, and all of these are situation dependent. Depends on what they’re coming at you with, but if you can, say, “Let me check on that and I’ll get back to you.” That’s one way to buy time. Two is validate. So just like you’re saying, you’re going to validate whatever is coming out of their mouth.

Jessica Mackey: You don’t defend.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jessica Mackey: You don’t need to justify, we don’t need, “No, but you don’t understand.”

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jessica Mackey: Oh my gosh, if you had any idea how many hours I spent.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jessica Mackey: They don’t care.

Allison Tyler Jones: No.

Jessica Mackey: So I think that if you’re texting or emailing, you can easily say, “Hey, let me check on that or get back to you,” but in a phone call situation, especially, you have to almost start by validating.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yes.

Jessica Mackey: Whatever their concern is, you’re like, “Oh my gosh, I had no idea. I totally get what you’re saying. Absolutely. Let me check into that and get back to you.” Then it doesn’t matter how escalated they are, if you just stay in this calm place that you’re like, “I’m gathering information.”

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jessica Mackey: I am here to find out more information. I’m not going to fix it.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jessica Mackey: Right now is not the conversation to fix. Right now is the conversation to gather information, to validate, to give me more time.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right. Exactly. So validating also sounds like, so if you’re the client and you’re calling and you’re upset about something, so be the client and be mad and be upset.

Jessica Mackey: Oh my gosh. I totally don’t even know what happened. I spent $10,000 on this portrait and it’s bubbling. What the heck?

Allison Tyler Jones: I cannot believe that has happened. I am so sorry. Let me check on this. Can you send me a picture of the bubbling? Okay, now normally, hold on, let’s pause for one second. Normally, you’re going to go on more than that.

Jessica Mackey: Right, right.

Allison Tyler Jones: You’re going to keep going.

Jessica Mackey: Yeah, because you want to de-escalate.

Allison Tyler Jones: I walked into my house…

Jessica Mackey: Oh, as the client. Yes.

Allison Tyler Jones: But I mean as the client. I walked into my house and I see it’s bubbling and I’ve spent all this money and my husband’s freaking out and I can’t believe it. So I want to let you have all your feelings. So you’ve said three to five more sentences than what you just said.

Jessica Mackey: Absolutely.

Allison Tyler Jones: Okay.

Jessica Mackey: I’m upset.

Allison Tyler Jones: Jessica, I am so sorry. Let me just assure you this will be made right, absolutely. Can you take a picture of it and send it to me so I can look at it and confer with my framer and see if maybe the mounting was done incorrectly or whatever, but regardless, this will be handled.

Jessica Mackey: Which is exactly what they need to hear.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jessica Mackey: They don’t need to hear all the excuses for why the canvas is bubbling or the lab or the glue or whatever. They don’t care.

Allison Tyler Jones: All they want to know is that you’re going to fix it.

Jessica Mackey: Yes.

Allison Tyler Jones: And that you have a right to be upset. I am so sorry. You’re absolutely right. I can’t imagine how upsetting that must be. I’m so sorry that your husband was upset. That’s got to be so upsetting for you. That’s another way to validate is to let them be heard and share their feelings. Okay.

Jessica Mackey: Then also I think it helps to let them know, especially if this is an out of the box thing, this has never happened before.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jessica Mackey: They need to hear that this isn’t what they can expect from working with you.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jessica Mackey: That whatever the issue is, whatever the concern is, this is not normal.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jessica Mackey: You can say that without being defensive.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jessica Mackey: You can just be like, “Oh my gosh, I am so sorry. This has never happened before. I’m going to go check with the framer. We’re going to find a solution. This will be taken care of.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jessica Mackey: They just need to know basically taken care of and that this isn’t normal.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right. I did have somebody call one time and they had had a slab leak in their house, and the plumber had come in, and his tools had scraped across the front of the canvas. It had only been up a month, less than a month, and his tool belt or whatever just scraped the front of this white canvas. So there was this big scrape in it and they couldn’t get it off. So the client called me crying and she’s like, “I just don’t know what to do. I’m so upset.” It wasn’t even our fault, but we warranty everything and so I just told her, I said, “Look, give me the name of the plumber. Let me call him and I’ll work it out with him, but regardless, this is going to be handled.” So just letting them know, validating them that, yes, you have a right to be upset and that it’s going to be handled.

Jessica Mackey: Which is another reason why we are so big on pricing your work appropriately.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jessica Mackey: Because when these things happen, I can say with full certainty, “We will take care of this. It will be fixed,” because I know we’ve built that into our cost.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jessica Mackey: For some of these solopreneurs who are just making ends meet barely to have something like this burn down, they’re going to go in the red having to take care of some of these things and that can feel like a gut punch.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jessica Mackey: So when you come up against these things, you’re like, “I need to accommodate that. I need to make sure my pricing reflects having to replace something the plumber did.”

Allison Tyler Jones: Right? Exactly, or if their kid knocked it off the wall and it cracked it and broke it, because you just don’t want to get into a situation where you’re fighting with somebody over whose fault it was or whatever. You want to be the one that’s solving the problems and if you’re pricing it to where you have enough in there to where you can redo it, then that is great. You’re not going to have to redo it very often, but it’s really great to be able to offer that. That’s marketing in and of itself the way you handle it.

Jessica Mackey: It is, and it gives you that peace of mind of knowing that you can say, without the panic, “We’ll take care of this.”

Allison Tyler Jones: Absolutely. Yeah. Okay. So buy time, validate their feelings. Our number three hack for dealing with difficult situations or people is the concept that Steve Jobs put out into the world. It’s attributed to him. I don’t know if it actually was his, but when he was setting up the Apple Care customer support line, he talked about how when a customer calls with a problem that you can respond in one of two ways. It’s no big deal or it’s the end of the world, and whichever stance you take, they are going to take the opposite. So if you take the idea that, “Hey, this is no big deal,” they are going to take, “This is the end of the world.” If you take, “Oh my gosh, this is the end of the world,” it allows the client to take, “Actually, it’s not that big of a deal.” So what that sounds like in role play is you call me, upset. So say the same thing. 

Jessica Mackey: No, I got another one.

Allison Tyler Jones: Oh, you got another one. Okay.

Jessica Mackey: I’ve got another one.

Allison Tyler Jones: I love it.

Jessica Mackey: So this was something that actually legit happened. So, “Oh my gosh, I have sent out all of my holiday cards, and just had someone call me to say my husband has an extra arm. Somehow in the retouch, we missed it in the proof. He has, legit, three arms.”

Allison Tyler Jones: Okay, so if I take the no big deal stance, okay? So what the no big deal stance sounds like is, “Well, how many people are really going to notice that? Really, it’s not that big of a deal. I’m looking at it and you can hardly tell.”

Jessica Mackey: Well, it feels like a really big deal because this went out to all of my friends and family, and they’re all going to be like… This is humiliating.”

Allison Tyler Jones: Exactly. Okay.

Jessica Mackey: Humiliating.

Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. Exactly. So I’m saying it’s no big deal. I’m minimizing in a way that’s being defensive, right? So then that’s just cranking you up.

Jessica Mackey: And they get emotional.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right? Exactly. Okay. So let’s start again. My husband has three arms.

Jessica Mackey: Yeah. My husband has three arms. These cards went out to my whole mailing list and is supposed to be on my wall.

Allison Tyler Jones: You have got to be kidding me. I am so sorry. This will be handled immediately. I am going to go in the back and cut off the head of my re-toucher with a rusty blade.

Jessica Mackey: No, no.

Allison Tyler Jones: Just kidding.

Jessica Mackey: Don’t do that.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yes, exactly. I am going to go look at this right now. This will be handled. This will be figured out. I am going to have these cards reprinted immediately.

Jessica Mackey: Oh, you don’t have to do that.

Allison Tyler Jones: Nope. They have to be perfect. Absolutely, we are going to get them redone for you.

Jessica Mackey: Well, I mostly just care about the wall art. I mean, how many people actually look at the holiday card, but if we could just get the wall art, the wall portrait fixed, that would be all I need.

Allison Tyler Jones: Of course. I am sitting here looking at it. I do not know how we missed that. I am mortified. I apologize. We are fixing the wall art right now. It has already been printed and framed, but we are going to reprint it. We are going to retouch that out and we are going to frame that for you. I am so sorry.

Jessica Mackey: Thank you. Seriously, I’m going to cry. The right kind of crying.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yes. Okay. So that actually happened.

Jessica Mackey: It did.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jessica Mackey: Almost just like that.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah, it did. We always take the stance it is the end of the world. On our end, if we have made a mistake, we take the responsibility. We want to be more upset than the client is rather than shrugging it off and making it no big deal.

Jessica Mackey: Absolutely, and being self-deprecating. It doesn’t matter to where we even had one situation, I feel like maybe we’ve talked about before, where we had a holiday card go out and I, just messing with layers, didn’t get our logo on the final version that sent. The client called and she’s talking to me. It was totally my fault. She’s like, “Are you guys embarrassed of my card? Is it not good enough?” I’m like, “Oh my gosh, no, this is such a big, I might get fired over this. Allison is going to be so mad at me. She is going to be mortified. We are going to take care of it. Don’t mail a single card. I’m ordering new cards. We’ll have them drop shipped directly to your house.” She’s like, “No, no, no. Don’t even tell Allison. She doesn’t need to know. This is just between me and you.”

Allison Tyler Jones: Yes.

Jessica Mackey: The minute I go, “End of the world,” she’s protecting my job.

Allison Tyler Jones: Exactly, and that client actually did text me and said, “Don’t fire Jessica.” So she went into actually trying to protect you. So it’s not a manipulation. Really, if you think about your own personal relationships, like with a kid, if you have a overly emotional kid…

Jessica Mackey: Teenage girls, this works magic.

Allison Tyler Jones: Or a 14 year old, teenage girl. When they come in and they’re like, “My friend was so mean to me. She hates me,” you know that if you are like, “She doesn’t hate you. She was just probably having a bad day,” and you’re trying to minimize how they’re feeling, then they’re just…

Jessica Mackey: It was horrible. You weren’t there. You weren’t there. Nobody loves me.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yes, exactly. It just goes even worse. Whereas if you’re like, “Oh my gosh, that is so hard. How are you even upright? Do you need a gurney? What should we do?”

Jessica Mackey: Or even like, “Do I need to talk to her mom? You tell me, is she bullying you?” Then they’re like, “No, no, no, mom. It’s fine. It’s fine. It’s okay.”

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. It’s not really that big of a deal.

Jessica Mackey: Don’t call anyone’s mom.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yes. So then it allows them, because they’re not having to prove to you how bad the situation is, that you’ve removed that from them. They are no longer having to show you that they’re not crazy, that something really is wrong. So that’s really a validation.

Jessica Mackey: Yeah. It comes back to validation. Yeah.

Allison Tyler Jones: Then they can actually get a little bit of perspective of like, “You know what? It doesn’t really matter that his arm was bad in that one, but let’s just make sure that it’s not on the wall because that’s really the one that I’m most concerned about.”

Jessica Mackey: Right. Then it almost becomes like a, “Well, we’ll see how many people even call and notice.”

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jessica Mackey: Then it becomes a game almost.

Allison Tyler Jones: It’s like the postcard when they collect stamps, how there was one little misprint actually makes it worth more. Yeah.

Allison Tyler Jones: You know, I think we all could say that we would like more, really great qualified leads, but what happens when we get contacted by a potential new client? We sometimes have that pit in our stomach of, it’s not a good time right now. I don’t want to call them. What if they ask me hard questions? I don’t really know that I have the words to say, and we put it off until we call and they’ve already booked somebody else, or maybe we don’t ever call, or we’re just letting things fall through the cracks. So if you ever find yourself in this type of situation and you feel like I just don’t know the words to say, or I don’t know how to talk to these people, or am I doing it wrong, I have a solution for all three of those things.

Allison Tyler Jones: If you go to, we have three different free resources for you. One is our ultimate client consultation guide that is going to help you, step by step, walk that prospective client through your process, how it is that you work. It has all the little speed bumps, so to speak, along the way to help you remember to say all the things that you need to say. Next is our cheat sheet of frequently asked difficult questions that has an exhaustive list of all the hard questions that clients come up with that will help you get started on answering those confidently so that you don’t have that feeling in the pit of your stomach anymore and you’re going to pick up that phone immediately. Lastly is our sales sabotage evaluation tool and that is going to help you to figure out where you are screwing it up because we all do at one time or another.

Allison Tyler Jones: So go to and wherever you’re at in your business, if you’re needing to rework your message, if you’re needing to rework your answers, if you’re needing to rework your sales process, they are all right there on that very first page. They are free. They are resources to help you in your business. Go do it, download them now, and start doing better. Start booking those clients confidently and start selling them your gorgeous, beautiful work, because they need it.

Allison Tyler Jones: So buy time, validate, if it’s no big deal or end of the world, you’re taking the it’s the end of the world so that you allow them to take the no big deal stance. Then our last one, which we use all the time is the what I can do. So we never say no, and we’ve had a podcast episode on this before, about never saying no, because there’s always something that we can do. We might not be able to say yes to exactly what the client is asking for, demanding, but there is always something that we can do. It’s much nicer to hear, “Well, what I can do is this,” rather than, “No, I can’t do that,” because the, “No, I can’t do that,” I don’t know about you, but that makes me just want to dig in my heels and fight even harder.

Jessica Mackey: Well, it makes you want to prove them wrong.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jessica Mackey: You’re like, “Why can’t you?” Then you become defensive, as the client, because you’re like, “No, you should be able to do this. This isn’t a big ask.”

Allison Tyler Jones: Right. Exactly. So what I can do is… When do we use that?

Jessica Mackey: Well, I mean, even if you take the same situation with the missing logo on the cards, oh my gosh. Well, what I’m going to do, sometimes it’s the…

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jessica Mackey: We don’t even give them a choice. We tell them how we’re going to fix it.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jessica Mackey: We’ll say, “What I’m going to do is I’m going to reorder all of your cards and have them drop shipped to you.” We give them a solution.

Allison Tyler Jones: Exactly. So that’s great, but if they’re making, let’s say that we have a difficult situation or difficult person that is making an unreasonable demand.

Jessica Mackey: Yes.

Allison Tyler Jones: Could you think of some that we’ve had?

Jessica Mackey: Well, we had one, if they say that they want a picture, people completely swapped in an irrational way.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. Something that won’t work. It’s maybe a head or a body swap that is not going to look good. Something that you know will actually ruin the quality of the work.

Jessica Mackey: Right. So then what you’ll say is, “Well, what I can do is I can talk to Stacy.”

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jessica Mackey: So you bring that down.

Allison Tyler Jones: Our re-toucher.

Jessica Mackey: Yeah. I’m going to talk to our re-toucher. I’m going to see what options we have.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jessica Mackey: I’m going to see what our possibilities are, and then that gives them a minute to cool down and they feel like you’ve taken it seriously.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jessica Mackey: So if you’re a sole entrepreneur, maybe what you’re saying is, “Okay, what I can do is let me get in there and play around with it and see what our options are and then I’ll get back to you.”

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jessica Mackey: Because they just want to feel like you’re taking them seriously.

Allison Tyler Jones: Exactly. Well, you’re also, in the instance of a body or head swap or something, you can say, “Well, what I can do is, out of this pose, we could get this head or this head and out of this other pose, we could get this head or this head. We probably won’t be able to mix the two. Let me get in there and look at it and see which one looks the best.” So again, you’re buying yourself a little bit of time and you’re also letting them know what I can do. Okay, what about something completely unreasonable? Have we ever had completely unreasonable?

Jessica Mackey: I love how you throw that at me. Completely unreasonable.

Allison Tyler Jones: Completely unreasonable demands. Okay. So for example, we have very discerning clients and some of our clients have very specific requests and needs and most of those requests and needs, we can meet. There’s some of them that might be a little bit OCD, right?

Jessica Mackey: Right.

Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. So for example, we had one great client that we totally love and she was like, “I need the paper that you’re printing on and the frame that it’s being framed in to exactly match the paint on my wall.” Okay, so that’s impossible. That’s not possible to have happen because there’s so many different whites and based on lighting and all of that. So what I can do is have you come to the framer, look at the actual paper that we’re printing it on, look at the actual frame that we’re framing it in.

Jessica Mackey: Yes, look at the options.

Allison Tyler Jones: Look at those two things and look at it in a daylight situation and in a lighting situation so that you can kind of get an idea and then approve it from there. So that’s what I can do, but I can let you know that it will not perfectly, it’s impossible for it to perfectly match just because there are so many different whites and the colors of your light bulbs and that sort of thing.

Jessica Mackey: So instead of saying, “No, I can’t do that.”

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. Yeah.

Jessica Mackey: You said, “What I can do, and let me just let you know it’s impossible to X, Y, Z, but I absolutely would love for you to come take a look and make sure you approve in person.”

Allison Tyler Jones: Exactly. So again, validating something that they’re concerned about, but also in a kind way letting them know that there’s just some parameters that are not going to be met.

Jessica Mackey: Right.

Allison Tyler Jones: That cannot be met.

Jessica Mackey: Something you have said, even with head swaps, I’ve heard you say, “Okay, because of how the light is, you aren’t going to like this face in this pose. It’s going to look weird and people are going to tell it’s retouched.” That is what nobody wants.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jessica Mackey: They don’t want anyone to know that they’ve been thinned, that their image has been retouched, that heads have been swapped. They want everyone to think they came out looking that way. This was the perfect pose, the amazing, perfect picture they captured in that moment, and so even just letting them know, “What I can do is switch this one because if we use this head, it’s just not going to look natural.” Oh, okay.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah, exactly. What I can do is also stepping into that role of that trusted advisor and letting them know, using your expertise, what is the best thing to do. So the four hacks, the buy time, validate, no big deal or the end of the world, and what I can do, those really are the core of what we use in response to anything that is coming up in the studio with difficult situations, difficult clients. It’s really difficult situations, I feel like.

Jessica Mackey: It is.

Allison Tyler Jones: I feel like it’s not necessarily a person, although sometimes it is, but generally we have such really nice, amazing clients. Sometimes there are just situations, and I feel like, especially coming out of the pandemic, everybody’s just a little more fragile than they ever have been before.

Jessica Mackey: Right.

Allison Tyler Jones: It’s kind of like our layers have been peeled off and everything that happens to us is going to the core. So things that might have been mildly upsetting in another year feel very upsetting right now and so I hope that these tools can help us to take a little bit better care of our clients and also benefit our business at the same time.

Jessica Mackey: Well, I think it can help us to shift that mindset from, oh, this is a difficult client to understanding, okay, wait, no, it’s a great client who maybe had a lot on their plate, had a bad day, and there was a difficult situation.

Allison Tyler Jones: Exactly.

Jessica Mackey: We don’t have to keep casting our clients as difficult.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right. Also if you have these tools in your back pocket, it allows you to take back control of a situation. Sometimes when somebody’s coming at you angry, you feel like, oh my gosh, I’ve got to defend myself. I’ve got to…

Jessica Mackey: You put up walls.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right, exactly. It’s like the, what do they say, the fight or flight. It’s like you’re going to argue with somebody, so if you’re fighting is, “No, we don’t do that and that’s why we don’t do that because blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” It’s like, “Well, that sounds really nice and nobody wants to be treated that way.” The flight is just avoid the topic altogether. For example, one way I would say flight is avoiding all confrontation. So never bringing up pricing, never talking about the hard things that you’re supposed to be talking about, and then fight, flight, or freeze, right? So the freeze, that would be another word for that would be just to fold over. That’s what a lot of really nice photographers do, which is just like, “Okay, you’re mad at me? Okay, you can have everything for free.”

Jessica Mackey: Right. I’ll give you an album on top of it.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jessica Mackey: Whatever it’s going to take to make you happy, which we have mind shift members and stuff that run into this all the time and have to almost retrain themselves not to fold. You don’t need to fold. You just need to take care of them.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right, and that’s really a good client. That’s not what they’re asking. You think about when you’ve had something go wrong in the past with something that you’ve purchased, something’s gone wrong. You call somebody and let them know. If they respond with, “I am so sorry. We are going to get this handled,” you’re immediately like, “Oh good. I don’t even…” But when you make that call, when you have geared yourself up, especially if they’re a nice person, you’ve geared yourself up to make a call about something that has gone wrong. You get loaded for bear. You’re kind of like, “What if they tell me no? What if they tell me they’re not going to fix the bubbling canvas that I paid $10,000 for? What if the…” So you’re already loaded for bear and thinking that it’s not going to go well. So sometimes you might come off a little more aggressive than what you might otherwise want to.

Allison Tyler Jones: But when somebody lets you know, no, this is the end of the world for us. We are going to make it right. You are absolutely right to be upset. We are so sorry and this is what I can do to fix it for you. That takes care of 99.9% of the problems and those good clients that love us and that want us to be in business next year and the year after to be documenting their families in perpetuity, they don’t want us giving them a bunch of stuff because that’s not going to build a sustainable business. They’re not calling us to say, “Okay, not only am I so sorry that your canvas bubbled, I’m going to give you an entire wall of free art because I feel so bad about it.” It’s like, “No, that’s an overkill. That’s not… Just fix what happened and make it great and then that will be fine.”

Jessica Mackey: Right. They don’t even expect you to refund the order.

Allison Tyler Jones: No. You don’t need to give them all that.

Jessica Mackey: They don’t need you giving them all this free stuff. They just want it to be taken care of. They want to be validated. They want to be heard. They want it fixed.

Allison Tyler Jones: Exactly, and that’s the fourth F.

Jessica Mackey: Fixed.

Allison Tyler Jones: It’s fixed.

Jessica Mackey: Yes.

Allison Tyler Jones: So don’t do fight, don’t flight.

Jessica Mackey: Don’t fold.

Allison Tyler Jones: Don’t fold. Fix it.

Jessica Mackey: Yes.

Allison Tyler Jones: How you fix it is using the four life saving hacks for dealing with difficult situations. Let’s recap them. So we’re going to buy time. Let me look into that.

Jessica Mackey: Yes. We’re going to, number two, validate. I can hear you.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yes. You’re absolutely right to be upset. I’m so sorry. We’re going to get this handled. Three, no big deal or the end of the world. It’s the end of the world as far as you’re concerned in your business, because you want them to take up the other half of…

Jessica Mackey: No big deal.

Allison Tyler Jones: Actually, it’s really not that big of a deal. Thank you so much for thinking of me and helping me fix it. Then lastly, instead of saying no…

Jessica Mackey: What can I do?

Allison Tyler Jones: What I can do.

Jessica Mackey: Oh, what I can do.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yes. What I can do is this.

Jessica Mackey: Or what we will do.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yes.

Jessica Mackey: What we’re going to do.

Allison Tyler Jones: What we will do is this.

Jessica Mackey: They just want it fixed.

Allison Tyler Jones: Absolutely. So that’s it. That’s our life saving hacks for dealing with difficult situations and difficult people.

Jessica Mackey: They really are lifesaving. When I learned how to implement these, I went from every time the phone rung, it would ring and I would feel this momentary panic. What if it’s an upset client? I didn’t have to fear the phone calls.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jessica Mackey: I didn’t have to get worked up about the text messages. I could give myself space to buy that time to figure out the best way to figure this out and to approach it. You really do have to listen to the client because you can’t build your own assumptions.

Allison Tyler Jones: Exactly.

Jessica Mackey: You can’t think that they’re saying one thing when really what they’re asking for is just for you to fix the wall portrait.

Allison Tyler Jones: Exactly. Yeah, because if you don’t take the time to really think about, okay, what is it that they’re actually asking, you don’t know which of these tools to use. Then you start telling yourself stories that aren’t necessarily true. They’re a jerk. They’re just being picky. This isn’t right.

Jessica Mackey: Not my client.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. All of that kind of stuff. Right. So hopefully this was helpful for you. If you let us know in the DMs on Instagram, @do.the.rework, we’d love to hear if you use these and how they’re working for you. Let us know if there are any other topics that you’d like us to cover.

Jessica Mackey: Okay. Thank you.

Allison Tyler Jones: Have I told you lately how much I appreciate you being here? I know that you have so many demands on your time and so many demands on your attention. You could be watching Netflix. You could be listening to a true crime podcast, but you’ve spent time here at The ReWork, learning to make your portrait business better. That really means a lot to me. If there’s somebody that you feel like could benefit from this episode, that you could help them and help us spread the word in helping other portrait photographers build better businesses, please go to where you’re listening to this episode and hit that share button and share it with them.

Allison Tyler Jones: If you have time and can give us a review, you don’t even understand how much that means to a little tiny podcast like ours, to see those reviews and see how we’re helping. If you have another minute and can send me a DM and let us know what you would like to hear in the future, what you really enjoyed hearing about, maybe things that weren’t that great, how we can do better. We always want to do better and we always want to support the portrait photography industry in helping you build the best businesses ever. Thanks again so much for being here.

Recorded: You can find more great resources from Allison at and on Instagram @do.the.rework.

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