What to expect when: the client has a tantrum

In the projects world, we usualy get adults as clients. Regardless of the age, you might experience a client tantrum.

They want it their way. They are noisy about it. They unnecessarily attract attention.

The first time i experienced it, it was scary. A deputy prime minister wanted it his way. He is running for president of a country now, by the way.

What can a project manager do? There is no universal soothing formula as clients are as different as the stars on the sky. I personally love reading about parenting and child growth, which offer great inspiration for kids and adults alike.

So, here are steps to take when the client has a tantrum:

Seat back and take a deep slow breath.

Scan your body for any tension.

Say confidently and softly: “I thank you for your concern for the project. I see you are upset right now and it feels for you good to shout/hit the table/kick the wall (depending on what they do). It’s your project and i am managing it to get the best possible results for you. I am here for you and the project’.

If the shouting/kicking continue, repeat. It’s also an advice found in boundary setting psychology literature.

If it does not work, here is a joke one of consultants i work with told me in a similar situation. A poster in a designer office said:

“Price list:

Design – 100 Euro

Design with you looking over my shoulder – 200 Euro

Design with you looking over my shoulder and telling me how to do it – 300 Euro

Design with you looking over my shoulder, telling me how to do it and me doing it – 400 Euro

Design by you at my computer – 500 Euro”,




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