Freelancing 101: Don’t flatter your Customer

This is a guest post by Nicolas Acuna and Mikka Olsson, co-founders of, an iPhone and iPad apps development company. In the last year, they’ve had great success (and committed a fair share of mistakes!) creating apps for clients all over the world and decided to share their findings with the fine readers of Inspired Mag in the new Freelancing 101 series.

Flattery carries dishonest connotations and its often linked to hidden agendas. Clients can sniff flattery miles away. In contrast, complements are honest and always exist in response to true value. When building relationships with your clients, make sure you don’t flatter but complement them when warranted.

Complements need to be earned. If your client has a genuinely good question or has given a particularly useful suggestion, a compliment can then be given.

5 Tips for professional compliments, the TASTE rule of thumb.


Don’t talk to your clients the way you talk to your buddies. Turn ” Dude that is awesome, I can’t believe I did not think of that earlier!” into ” Thats a great suggestion, thank you”.


For a compliment to carry the most weight and truly resonate with your client, it should have an actionable component to it. If you believe that your client’s question or suggestion is actually good, it should cause action. Here are some examples: “That is a great idea, can you please expound on it?” or ” You are right, your approach to this seems to be better, let me do some research and I will get back to you tomorrow”


Embellishment does not belong in professional relationships. A simple compliment can be powerful and direct while remaining within the boundaries of a provider-client relationship.


Compliment on the spot. If you wait too long, it will loose its positive impact and could be interpreted as flattery.


When giving a compliment, make sure that your emotions, intonation and attitude parallel your words. There is nothing more deflating than a reluctant compliment.

The flip-side:

Its ok to disagree with your clients. Whether they verbalize it or not, most want you to disagree with them. As the designer or developer, its your responsibility to bring your expertise to the table regardless of your client’s thoughts. Initially, clients might want to accomplish things a certain way, but most of the time their opinions are based in a lack of subject matter understanding. If you express your differing opinion by explaining, informing and gently educating, your client and you can end up in the same page.

Dangers of Flattery:

Flattery wastes every bodies time since it does not add to the momentum of the project or the strength of the provider-client relationship.

While easier, flattery alludes to dishonesty. If you over flatter, your client might have reason to suspect your intentions and potentially stop trusting your guidance and opinions on the project, let alone higher you again.

In the next post of our freelancing tips series we will share some strategies on how to communicate to the client when a problem arises.


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Freelancing 101: Don’t flatter your Customer

Posted in <a href="" rel="category tag">Business - Marketing</a>, <a href="" rel="category tag">web development</a>