…is the thing you must discuss first.
As I gain experience in dealing with people (by which I mean not only clients, but family, children, other people’s children and family, vendors, partners, collaborators…whatever) the thing that has been most helpful for me is the realization that the thing you’re most nervous talking about is the thing you MOST need to talk about.
Of course, it’s also the thing you want to talk about the least, so it’s often the last thing you talk about. Sometimes, you want to talk to people about it so little, that you stop talking to them at all.
With clients it’s usually money or (closely related to that) expectations. We don’t want to scare people off, or seem greedy, or set ourselves up for failure, so we avoid talking about the things that matter most; The Budget and the Timeline.
Clients don’t get upset because your work isn’t as good as you promised, or because things take longer than they think it should, or cost more than they think it should. Clients get upset because you let their expectations be set by their imagination instead of setting them based on your professional experience. They’re working under a set of assumptions that is based on their perception or experiences, which are probably limited compared to yours.
You are the professional in this relationship, after all. That’s why they hired you.
By avoiding talking with clients about the money and the timelines for projects, we set ourselves up for failure. Even if we don’t fail by our own standards, it’s nearly impossible to meet the expectations clients set based on fantasy.