Don't: Take every word literally.
Do: Listen for the unspoken and read carefully between the lines.
-Remember that people have different styles of communication. While some are frank and outspoken, others may not want to offend and instead hint subtly at what they like/dislike. Instead of taking every statement like an order in a restaurant, some things may even get mentioned to give and example or to start a conversation and not because a client wants just that. Interpreting what a client says and asking a lot of follow up questions can be a big step to get the right message and save from disappointments.
Don't: Insist on your point or strategy.
Do: Admit when you are wrong, or someone else's idea is better, and do whatever you can to reassure your customer, and correct the mistake.
-If you're wrong, don't put your defenses up. A humble apology combined with giving your word to correct the mistake will mean much more to a client than even the best excuse! Remember that your job is a collaborative effort with a client. It ultimately doesn't matter who had the best ideas, just that they are well thought out and appropriately implemented.
Don't: Take disagreement personally and get emotional about it.
Do: Stay objective and acknowledge that opinions and expectations may differ at times.
-When a customer is investing their hard earned money, and a company is investing their fleeting time, disagreements may arise as to how to spend the aforementioned time and money. Do realize that disagreements need to be worked through in a courteous manner when they arise. Heated, quick words are recipes for disasters, or at least burnt bridges. It's important to discern when an email will be helpful to soothe a sticky situation, and when it's best to pick up the phone or meet face to face for coffee to put out a fire. The main thing is to not let a disagreement put you in a poor mood, but to remain professional and to try to salvage the relationship with the customer, even if you think they are not being respectful or understanding. You have to remember, they are only human (like you) and might not always show their best side. Remain professional - you'll be glad you did in the long run!
Don't: Tell a customer they are wrong.
Do: Point out what the prior agreement was and find common ground that you can proceed on.
-Nobody likes being told they are "wrong." It hurts the ego and it tends to lead to he said/she said type discussions ("You said we agreed on this!", "But I thought we were planning on that"). Instead, kindly point a customer to their contract (in our case a detailed scope of work which is signed prior to the work being started) and proceed to correct any assumptions by pointing to good, solid evidence of what was planned upon. At times, cut your customer a break and find a way to work with them on easier terms where they have misunderstood an agreement. At other times, gently but firmly maintain what was agreed upon. Use your discernment to determine which reaction is necessary.