We’ve all had those clients who come in for their appointment and start spewing negativity right out of the gate. You have your smile ready and your listening ears perked...but the negative talk continues. You’ve tried redirecting them to a different topic, but they are stuck. Whether it’s a client or a friend, I think we can all relate to the person who can be an Eeyore at times, or maybe all of the time. We want to pivot these conversations into positive ones, though, and have some tips to help combat this:

#1: Practice solution-focused thinking and talking. We want to simply focus on solutions rather than problems. This isn’t easy to do and honestly takes practice, but consider it an investment. The more you practice “solution-focused talk”, the more this will become a daily practice. Also, ask questions that help the client focus on solutions, too. 

Let’s Practice: 

Client: “There are so many people who have died from COVID-19 and the number just keeps rising.”

You: “It is a terrible loss and feel for all of the families and friends involved. Although this has been such a hard time, I’ve found myself feeling extra grateful for the things in my life. What are some of the things you are grateful for right now?”

#2: Create or maintain a positive environment in your work space. The physical space around us really does impact our mood and attitude. Look around your work space. How do you feel when you are sitting there? 

Let’s Practice:

Try sitting in the client chair and think about this from the client’s perspective. Consider these factors:

- What colors surround the space?

- What are on the walls? If there are pictures, do they make me feel happy?

- Does it feel empty with nothing on the walls?

- Could you add any positive or encouraging quotes?

- Is there clutter in your space? If so, does this feel distracting or too much?

- Have I missed any areas where I need to do some extra cleaning or disinfecting?

- Does my space exude relaxation and an escape? 

    #3: Focus on thanking them and praising them for their loyalty and support. If you shift the focus onto the client and how happy you are to see them, they are much more likely to keep the conversation on a lighter note. Positivity is contagious and even if you’ve told them before, clients will love hearing how much you appreciate their business and will most likely lead to more positive conversation. 

    Let’s Practice:

    Consider these forms of gratitude towards your clients:

    1. Start your visit with showing them one positive thing you did in quarantine. (Example: If your client is into nail art, show them a new technique you practiced and are excited to try. If you tried a new product or color that was new or different, show them this and tell them why you like it.) This starts the visit on a positive note.

    2. When you first start their service, comment on one or two specific things you have missed about them that make you happy or positive. (This will set the tone of the whole service.)

    3. Write a handwritten note to your client prior to or after their visit. This shows you took time but also models this optimism. 

    #4: Use the AAR (Acknowledge, Answer, Redirect) Model. This is a practical way to become unstuck in a negative conversation and move forward. Commonly, people don’t feel like they are validated in their feelings so they continue on and keep talking about it without a growth mindset. There is a lot of power in what we say and how we respond. 

    Let’s Practice:

    Client: “It’s been so stressful being at home with my kids 24/7, working full-time from home and being their teacher too. It is what it is but no one understands what it’s been like for me.”


    “It sounds like it’s been difficult and am sorry you’ve had to juggle so much during this hard time. I’m sure that’s been overwhelming.” (Acknowledge)

    “Everyone has had their own unique experience and struggles through this.” (Answer)

    “Although it’s been hard, tell me about something you have been able to do together as a family that you normally don’t have the time to do. I’d love to hear it!” (Redirect)

    #5: Make sure your own tone and messaging is positive. It will be easy to focus on the bad things that have happened like not making money during this time, so just keep yourself in check with your attitude and tone to the conversation too. 

    Let’s Practice: 

    Try These Tips:

    1. Greet the customer with a smile and energy. I know this is what we aim for but use positive self-talk to remind you to start each visit this way.

    2. Play upbeat and positive music that makes you feel good.

    3. Start your day with your favorite beverage and pack yourself some snacks to keep up your energy throughout the day.

    4. Add a fresh plant or a new picture of your kids or family to your desk. These can be positive reminders of happiness throughout your day.

    5. Try a new mindfulness or calm app on your phone to practice breathing or relaxation in-between visits. 

    The reality is, you will still have clients who have difficulty with this but having some tips in your pocket to help change conversations to the positive will help. Changing habits is also hard but try incorporating one or two things from this list to keep conversations lighter so you can leave work feeling that way, too. 

    If this is an area of improvement for you and you want some more information or tools on this, please email Kate at  coaching@ericasata.com