It’s a tale rich with lessons about navigating unclear client requests, steering through miscommunication, and the crucial importance of maintaining integrity in the complex world of business politics. This isn’t just Leanne’s story; it’s a vital roadmap for anyone encountering similar challenges, offering practical insights on how to emerge not just unscathed, but with triumph.




This episode shares:  

  • The Power of Clarity, Honesty, and Kindness: How these values can steer you through business turbulence.
  • The Art of Dealing with Unclear Requests: How to respond to vague client demands.
  • Maintaining Professional Integrity in Difficult Situations: My approach to keeping my composure and professionalism intact.
  • Navigating Miscommunication and Misrepresentation: Strategies for handling situations where your work is misunderstood or misrepresented.


The Power of Clarity, Honesty, and Kindness

These three values are my compass in the business world. They guided me when I had to explain to my client the mismatch between their request and our services. Being clear about our capabilities, honest about the situation, and kind in my approach helped maintain a positive relationship with the client, despite not being able to meet their changed needs.

Tip:💡Always be clear about what you can and cannot do, honest about your reasons, and kind in your communication.


The Art of Dealing with Unclear Requests

Dealing with a client’s ambiguous request can be like navigating a maze blindfolded. I encountered this when a client asked for a quote with minimal details. My strategy? Crafting a comprehensive plan, assuming the client’s needs based on my understanding. This approach was a deliberate choice to provide a clear starting point for further discussion and refinement. It’s about making an educated guess and being ready to pivot as more information becomes available.

Tip:💡When faced with unclear requests, develop a broad strategy and use it as a basis for further discussion.


Maintaining Professional Integrity in Difficult Situations

Maintaining composure and professionalism in the face of unexpected challenges is crucial. When the advisor unexpectedly changed their stance, it was a test of my ability to remain calm and collected. It’s essential to manage such situations with tact and diplomacy, focusing on the issue at hand rather than the emotional turbulence surrounding it.

Tip:💡Let your professionalism shine by not getting involved in the emotional aspects of disputes.


Navigating Miscommunication and Misrepresentation

Miscommunication can turn a straightforward task into a complex puzzle. This was evident when my well-intentioned plan was misinterpreted by the client’s advisor, leading to an awkward situation. It’s about understanding that miscommunications happen and that they can be resolved through patient and clear dialogue.

Tip:💡 Always approach miscommunications with a mindset of seeking clarity and resolution.


And… that’s a wrap!

Navigating the complexities of client relationships and business politics requires a delicate balance of clarity, honesty, kindness, and a focus on solutions. I hope to inspire you to approach business challenges with the same values, ensuring that even in the most trying circumstances, you emerge with your integrity and professional relationships intact. Remember, the way you handle difficult situations can define your career trajectory. Stay audacious, stay empowered, and most importantly, stay true to your values. 



Want more OBM tips & tricks leads?

We’ve got just the resource for you.

Embark on your path to becoming a six-figure Online Business Manager with our comprehensive FREE roadmap. Gain insights into key strategies, and build the confidence needed to align your service with the value you bring. Don’t wait.

Hungry for more? Yearning to fast-track your journey to a successful, 6-figure OBM career? Our OBM Academy is here for you. Gain access to exclusive support, invaluable resources, and the tools you need to sharpen your skills and elevate your OBM career. Don’t miss this opportunity.
Follow along with the transcript

E24 I got thrown under a bus. Here’s what I did

Hello, hello, hello! Welcome to this week’s episode of The Audacious OBM. I’m Leanne Woff, your host, and today I am going to tell you about that time when I got thrown under a bus and what I did about it. Now, I sound chirpy and I say this with smiles on my face, but it was just really not nice, if I’m being honest.

So something about me. I’m very direct and I’m kind And I’m honest. And that being my person, I’ve always run my business with that at the baseline, is be kind, be honest, be clear even if it’s a little bit uncomfortable. And human politics drive me nuts. I hate games. And I don’t play people off against each other.

I think it’s yucky. I think it’s petty. I don’t like the saying one thing behind someone’s back and another to their face. And I do my very best not to be involved in anything like that because I know how easy it is to get sucked in. But it just very much grinds me the wrong way. And then when I’m pulled into situations where games are a thing, I get very frustrated because it just is like, why this is a colossal waste of everyone’s time.

So let me tell you the story. Recently, I had a client. And they asked me to do a quote. Hey team, can you please create a quote for a new initiative I’m looking at doing? Here’s some things I’m thinking. I need someone to pull it together. And it’s like, okay, there’s pretty much zero detail here. Not a lot for me to go with.

But, that’s the way this particular client tends to work. It’s like, you come to me for the information that you need. [00:03:00] You pull it out of me. Show me what it could look like, and then I’ll help you shape it. We’ll go from there. So knowing that and knowing next to nothing about where we were actually headed or what the outcome we were looking for was I said, yeah, cool.

And I’m based my quote on the notion that I’d put what I knew and what I could extrapolate from that, of what might be an option. And we would go from there. So what I ended up with was a plan to get that clarity. So to get crystal clear on what it is that we wanted to create why we wanted to create it, how we would measure it, what the purpose of the business would be.

And then to be able to map pathways and different options available to do it. So I did this in a way that was very [00:04:00] start to finish. Okay, if this is what creating a concept or a new thing looks like, these are all the things someone would have to do. And I put it all together. And then when you add that all up, it’s huge, right?

It’s a big, big plan. And so it ends up being a lot of money. Now, I knew that when my client saw this, that they wouldn’t say yes. They’d see that this big thing, this big dollar figure and go, what? No, but getting them to say yes was actually never my goal. So my goal was to go to this visionary and show them what it was that they were actually talking about and see how committed to this initiative they were.

Because sometimes with visionaries, there are so many ideas. And until somebody can show them, hey, this is [00:05:00] what’s actually involved in this, is this is what you were really wanting. Makes them step back and think about things from another perspective. And gives them that level of insight that they might not have gotten to on their own.

Which is okay. I wanted to see how committed this client was once they saw the level of work and the cost and the effort that would be behind it. So my goal was to give them a starting point so that then they could come back to me and say, okay, I didn’t really want this. I wanted one, two, three, four.

X, Y, Z. Can we do that? And then I would revise and review.

In the process of sending this off, my client’s business advisor contacted me, had a call, said that my client was never going to say yes to this big list. It’s too many things. Can we just break it down to the first bit? And so I explained to the advisor why I had done it the way that I did it and explaining that the level of planning that was needed for something like this was actually going to be quite large, which the advisor agreed with and said, okay, so what are the things that we have to do that would get this off on the right foot, give us the best chance for success. and we mapped that out together.

So we went through the whole strategy, broke that first piece down. This is what we need to identify. This is what needs to look like, this is how we’ll do it, did all of that and then I resent it to the client and to the advisor, a revised version, smaller price tag, because it was just a piece of it to get us started.

And then we had a call. So myself, my client, their advisor, the advisor did a complete 180 in front of the client. And I’m sitting there, absolutely stunned, keeping my full composure, but like, what the heck is going on here? , and so, you know, the advisor is going, oh yeah, this is really strange, I don’t understand why they would have done it this way.

And  but I didn’t. And I didn’t because, what’s the point? If I was already sitting there stunned and going, okay, I need to pivot and that’s okay. Like I need to manage this situation. There is no point in me turning it into a big gossipy, he said, she said kind of thing.

And it’s not the way I operate anyway. So I had to take a different approach.

And so in this call with my client and the advisor, [00:08:00] I said, okay, so if this isn’t, you know, what you wanted, that’s totally fine. What is it that you wanted? Like, give me some more information to go off them. And then what my client ended up delving into was actually something that we don’t offer. So far from what we offer.

And it was very different to what they requested in the first place. And so I said, okay, thanks for sharing it with me. I will go back, rethink and come back to you. Then off the back of that call, I thought about it. And when this actually isn’t something we do, like we would come in at the next point.

It’s not at this point. So I contacted the advisor and then I said, Hey, I’m actually not going to re-quote because this isn’t something that we do. and so, he brought up a lot of different things, but talking it through and [00:09:00] wanting to know, okay, what, what did I think? And I just reiterated that I found it really strange because we had discussed a lot of things, one of them being this quote that we created together.

Like we had both decided this was a great strategy and it was very odd that then it was, it wasn’t what we ended up needing, uh, which is cool. And I’m happy if that’s not what we need, but I wouldn’t be spending more time creating another thing, another plan, when 1. I’m not going to get backed up and 2.

Like, it’s not our ballgame. So, sorry, can’t do it. Then I was on a call with my client and they asked me, what happened? I thought, you’re going to do this quote, you’re going to do this with me, and [00:10:00] then all of a sudden it was just hard, no, we got stonewalled, like, what’s the go? And so, which is not what happened.

But the client didn’t know that. So then I explained the issue around clarity and the difference between what I was originally asked and now what the request was and how that had changed. I also explained that I didn’t believe it was in the client’s best interest to get us to do this, to get anyone on the current team to do it.

It was out of the skill set of the different people that the client currently has working in that business. And, um, it actually needed some external knowledge, and I never want to take on work that I can’t guarantee kind of the delivery of the outcome. I already know that’s not our wheelhouse. I’m not going to take your money and just try.

Like, that’s not great. So it was best, it was in the best interest to get somebody else. And I explained that, you know. The advisor and myself, like the people on this team, we’re very clever. We’re a bunch of very clever people. And if this approach and this quote that the advisor and me had put together wasn’t quite right, then the likelihood is that we just need an external person.

We need an external skillset. And then that helped me determine what that skill set was. If I don’t have it and they don’t have it, what is it that we’re looking for? And so on this call with the client, I then went through, okay, you kind of need someone like this. Here’s what to look for. Here, here’s how you can start trying to find this person.

and I was helpful and I didn’t speak badly of anybody. I [00:12:00] just explained. The whole thing could have gotten very ugly. Very fast, if I had wanted to play games, but I didn’t. So instead I was clear and practical. And even though it was incredibly uncomfortable and upsetting, I didn’t destroy my relationship with the business advisor.

We’re still a team and people make mistakes, particularly when life is happening, if they feel backed into a corner, or if they’re stressed, or they’re not processing information properly, or they feel like they’re being weighed and measured, there’s all different reasons why people act the way they act.

And that’s okay. But what I did do was reiterate the situation both to the advisor and to the client that the advisor and I had done this together. That’s where my reputation comes in and protecting that reputation. This wasn’t just me not listening to you. Because it’s important, and I don’t ever want my clients to think that I’ve just gone rogue.

That’s never my intent, and although that’s not something that, you know, they would necessarily think, it’s still important to me to reset that standard. So I was honest with my client, without saying nasty things about anybody else. I was kind, I was clear, I was factual, and I saved face for myself.

And the outcome was that I ended up helping my client find what it was that they really needed, which in my opinion is my job 100 percent of the time. Now, I just want to reiterate that I could have kept going. I could have blown this up. I could have stood [00:14:00] my ground. I could have said, Hey, I’m being really disrespected here.

But what I know is if I had have done that, the friction and the emotion in it would have been really hard for me. I don’t like that. And I don’t like arguing with people or having all of this unsaid stuff drive different decisions. And so to have this dealt with and done… in a day feels so much better to have everybody still working together and harmoniously.

So much better. Even if it means I had to like shirk my pride a little bit to go, no, this wasn’t me. This was someone else. And I’m getting the blame. The end of the day, it didn’t matter. My client didn’t think any less of me. My relationship with everybody else is all still good. We’re still going in the right direction.

And so I just want to say to you that even if you’re stumped, and something very strange is happening in a call or in a conversation you’re having. Take a breath. It’ll be okay. Think about how you can handle it and how you can all get what you want out of this situation, even if somebody else has done the wrong thing.

And what you might find is that you resolve it in a way that’s quite calm and peaceful and you’re content rather than getting really stressed, worked up and not sleeping at night. So I hope that helps, and although I hope you are never placed in a situation like that, if you are, you are not alone and there are ways to manage it with less friction.

Thanks everyone.