I've been working with a supplier recently who is really needy. Every time they do some work for me I have to stop everything to give them praise. They aren't looking for feedback, they need praise due to their own insecurities. I understand this to a point, but now I seriously don't want to give them any more work, not because of the quality of their work, but because they are simply too needy and it takes up too much of my time and energy to manage them.

Now don't get me wrong. I completely understand the need for feedback, especially when starting a new working relationship. And the fact that it takes a little while to get to know how each other works best - that's normal, I've been working with new business relationships for many years. But neediness is different.

Just as we all know the insecure person who is fishing for praise, or who lacks self confidence and needs people to be gentle around them, or try to talk them up and avoid upsetting them at all costs, some business owners and suppliers are like this. It's ok on a personal level, we all have our demons to manage, but when doing business it's really kind of irritating.

How does this insecurity manifest?

  • Overly demanding communication, where they contact you too often and too urgently for feedback.
  • They don't take constructive criticism well.
  • They get paranoid if you don't return their email or phone call immediately.
  • They are stop start with projects because they get frozen because they think you don't like what they've done so they stop work till they hear from you.
  • Meetings are hard work.
  • You constantly have to tell them they are doing a great job (even if they are not).
  • It's hard to talk money with them because they take it personally (and they generally under charge because of their own self worth issues).
  • It become all about their needs.

So, the big problem is, with a business like this, or more specifically a person like this, even though they might be really good at what they do, in fact they might be exceptional, are they simply too hard to work with. In fact would you work with someone else not so good simply because they are not so needy?

The big question we need to ask (and a little self reflection) is, are we too needy with our clients? And if we are, what is it costing us?

Now I get that when we start out in business we all lack a little confidence - that's very normal. But at some stage we have to move beyond this, and in fact we need to be able to bluff our way through or we won't grow our business.

Have you got any businesses that you work with that are too needy? How do you feel about the relationship. Would you stop working with them simply because they are too needy? An interesting thought to ponder.