23 Jan 2023
  • Website Development

Navigating Client Blame as a Consultant: Strategiese

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By Tyrone Showers
Co-Founder Taliferro


As a consultant, you may have to deal with clients who throw you under the bus. This can be stressful and frustrating, but it's not always your fault. Here are some tips for dealing with this situation:

When your client throws you under the bus

Know that this is happening and be able to recognize it.

Don't take it personally, even if the client is blaming you for something that isn't your fault.

Tell them how they can fix the situation without blaming you or making you feel like an idiot who doesn't know what they're doing (even if it makes them look bad).

If they aren't willing to do anything about it, then let them know that there's nothing more than what they're offering right now and either walk away or make sure they understand why you can't continue working together.

Your client is a terrible person

What do you do when you realize that a client is a terrible person?

You have to be careful when dealing with this situation. If you are honest with yourself and your client about their bad behavior, you can either get them to change or remove yourself from working with them. The good news is that while they may be awful people and treat others poorly, they don't likely want the whole world to know about it—so there's always room for compromise in these situations.

Your client does not trust you

Please make sure the client is aware of their expectations.

Make sure they understand what you are doing.

Make sure they understand how you will be using their data and how you report back on your findings.

If any of these things need to be clarified, it is up to you as the consultant to ensure they are. If a client does not trust or understand your work, there is little chance for success in the long run.

Your client has no control over their company and is taking it out on you.

As a consultant, you will see many times when the client needs to be in control of their company, and they take it out on you. You are there to help them, and they are taking it out on you. This can be stressful and uncomfortable to deal with. What can you do?

First off, recognize that this is not personal. They may just be stressed and looking for someone else to blame for their problems. They may need to fully understand your role or how much control they have over the situation. If this seems like something that might apply to your situation, here's some advice:

Don't take it personally

Don't take it personally; be prepared to move on if this happens too often.

Take this as something other than a reflection of your skills.

Don't get angry, don't get defensive.

Don't try to defend yourself.

How to handle clients who blame you

Here are some steps you can take:

Be calm, don't get defensive. Your client may be particularly upset about a situation and might say things that aren't true. Please don't argue with them or call them out on their feedback. Instead, ask for evidence of the accusations and ask them to explain what they want you to do differently in the future. If a client blames you for something that isn't your fault (for example, if they blame you for failing to persuade another team member), you must let them know this, so they aren't repeating false information about you later on.

Ask for an action plan. If something specific your client wants from you—such as helping them find new funding sources—make sure this is written down in black and white, so there are no misunderstandings later.

Ask how success will be measured by both parties involved; this way, everyone will know exactly what they need to accomplish before moving forward with any projects together again in future months/years ahead.

Clients often blame their consultants when things go wrong with an IT project

If you're a consultant, chances are you've been thrown under the bus by one or more of your clients. This can be emotionally trying, but it's essential not to take it personally. If and when this happens, remember that:

You are not responsible for the outcome of their project. Your job is to help them make good decisions and guide them toward success (or at least away from failure). They are responsible for what happens next.

Even if you could have done something differently—and sometimes, consultants do miss things—that doesn't mean that they would have made better decisions or achieved better results if they had known about everything beforehand. Wrong information can often lead people in worse directions than no information. So don't beat yourself up over something beyond your control; instead, focus on getting back into the driver's seat as quickly as possible so that the next time goes smoothly from start to finish - because there will always be another "next time around."

Consultants can be caught in the middle

The first thing to remember is that as a consultant, you're not responsible for the outcome of your client's project. You're there to help, but it's ultimately up to them. Being caught in the middle can be awkward and uncomfortable, but if you keep this in mind and act accordingly, it'll all work fine.

Refrain from getting dragged into the details of their problem. Remember that this is their problem (not yours), so try not to take it personally. Most consultants will have experience dealing with demanding clients; if you don't, ask for advice from professionals who do similar work.

Who is responsible when a client blames a consultant?

As a consultant, you are responsible for delivering results. As such, if you're working with your client to determine what needs to be done and how it should be done, it is also your responsibility to make sure that the client understands the scope of their tasks. You may have already worked directly with them on this before engaging me as a consultant and assumed they understood exactly what was expected of them. Still, if you don't specifically ask them, "Are you clear on the deliverables?" then there's no way to know whether or not they understand all aspects of their responsibilities.

My job as an outside resource is to help solve problems and ensure that everyone involved in any given project stays on track toward achieving its goals. Consideration must be given to identifying potential issues early enough so they can be addressed before they become major roadblocks or delays; otherwise, any subsequent work will needlessly suffer from whatever problem existed in the first place.

Why do clients behave this way

  • You're a consultant. Your client is a company.
  • Your client is afraid of things going wrong and losing money.
  • Your client is stressed about something, and you are the easiest person to take it out on.
  • Your client doesn't know how to handle the situation, so they want someone else to do it for them (i.e., you).

They're trying to shift blame away from themselves because their reputation means everything in their industry or community/industry group/etc.

The best way to deal with blameshifting clients

The best way to deal with blameshifting clients is not to take it personally. If they are prepared to throw you under the bus, they probably won't hesitate to throw anyone else under the bus.

The first step is to remain professional and keep accurate records of everything that happened during your job. If your client tries to blame you for something that wasn't your fault, make sure that someone else knows what really happened—and make sure it isn't just one person who knows the truth. If this situation occurs often enough, consider changing jobs; people who blame shift are toxic for morale and will drag down everyone around them if they aren't removed from the team ASAP.

Follow these tips to ensure that you're not blamed unfairly by your client. To ensure that you're not unfairly blamed, follow these tips:

  • Make sure you have a clear record of what happened and what your role was. If you don't keep good records or notes, it will be hard to fight back when the client says something inaccurate. Also, make sure that they understand the process. If they need to know how things work, they might say something misleading without realizing it.
  • Don't take it personally. This is just business—it's not personal at all. If a client starts saying things about you online that aren't true, feel free to reach out for advice from peers who have faced similar situations before (we're here 24/7). Just remember that this doesn't mean anything about your reputation as a consultant; there's nothing wrong with being honest about bad experiences so long as it isn't maliciously slanderous in nature.

Make sure they understand the process

  • Make sure they understand the process.
  • Make sure they understand how you are going to do the work.
  • Make sure they understand the risks involved with that process and what those might mean for their business.
  • Make sure they understand how much time it's going to take for you to deliver those results (and what exactly "deliver" means).

Keep accurate records

Whatever you do, keep accurate records. They'll be your best defense if the client throws you under the bus.

Record everything you do on the project. This includes meeting notes, emails, time sheets, and invoices.

Record every conversation with your client and other team members (including yourself). If someone throws out an idea in a meeting that becomes part of your final deliverable, write it down so that others know who came up with it first.

Record any meetings with clients or other stakeholders in which they make requests or express concerns about the project's progress or quality. Also include updates from team members about how far along they are in their tasks or research efforts; this will help ensure everyone stays informed about how much work is being done by whom at any given time — which is especially important when multiple people are working on different components within a single deliverable rather than one cohesive unit like a website design document or report template.

Record Keeping

If your client throws you under the bus, make sure you have a clear record of what happened and what your role was. I'm not talking about proof that they were wrong, but rather a clear record of what they did or didn't do so that if they try to pin blame on you, it will be obvious where the responsibility should lie.

You should also keep accurate records. Sometimes people get confused about who said what and when it happened—and there's nothing like an email trail to clear things up. If you don't have one already set up for business reasons (which I highly recommend), now's an excellent time to start one so that if something goes wrong, there'll be no question about who said what and when.

Finally: make sure your client understands the process. It may seem evident at first glance, but sometimes people need to realize how much work goes into executing their ideas or projects before going full speed ahead with them without thinking through all possible outcomes and consequences beforehand.


As a consultant, it's important to remember that you are not responsible for the mistakes of your clients. If they blame you unfairly, follow these tips and make sure they understand exactly what happened. The most important thing is to keep an accurate record of events so that if anyone tries to throw someone under the bus (including yourself), there will be clear evidence for all parties involved.

Tyrone Showers