4 Useful Tips for Dispute Handling​

Workalike - how to handle disputes

Once you transition to freelancing, one of the first lessons you learn is that sometimes things go wrong. And while in some cases it’s you to blame, there are instances when you’re not at fault.

What’s important is to learn how to handle disputes when they come up and some takeaways from these misunderstandings for future reference.

Several issues face the freelancer-client relationship, from minor niggles to significant issues concerning payments. To maintain a credible professional reputation and build a solid freelance business operation, you need to learn how to solve these problems amicably as they arise.

Read on to learn some tips on how to handle disputes with your clients.

Lay the Foundation

The best thing for freelance engineers and architects to do is, in the first place, always strive to avoid conflict with clients.

Both sides should always uphold their integrity. Ongoing communication is vital in promoting peaceful relations.

As a freelancer engineer, keep the following in mind:

Be Clear With Your Clients

Often the primary reason things go wrong is a lack of proper communication between the two sides at some point. Therefore, you should always be clear and to the point with your client on what you’re offering them.

Workalike advocates that freelance architects and engineers agree to a statement of work right from the beginning. Doing so ensures project success because it helps you manage expectations and makes it categorically clear what’s expected from both you and your client.

Have a Contract in Place

A contract should go hand in hand with your statement of work. Its purpose is to ascertain what your agreement with the client entails in terms of payments, timescales, and notice periods.

A contract reduces the chances of disagreements in the future. Should disputes arise, the parties can always refer to the two documents to establish who has gone wrong (if any).

Set Clear Deadlines and Turnarounds

Both you and your client should clearly understand and agree on turnaround times for responding to emails, reporting, feedback, and even deadlines. With clear timelines, you can effectively manage your time.

Also, take the lead on timings so that you don’t allow the clients to manage you. It must be clear what you’re required to deliver. Most clients prefer to hire such freelance professionals.

Come Up With Proactive Interventions

It’s normal to feel like there are things that are not in order sometimes. Workalike recommends reaching out to clients to try and analyze the situation.

If you have any, express your concerns regarding the payments and any fears that your work is not satisfactory. Establish the issue at hand and try to offer a solution that works well for both of you.

Don’t Allow Things to Escalate

It takes very little time for a conflict that’s already presented itself to get out of control. However, preventing things from escalating will no doubt allow you to find solutions to the issues amicably.

When faced with the conflict, do the following:

Take Time to Consider the Issue Carefully

Usually, when a conflict arises, we react out of emotions rather than rationale. We don’t take time to think through the issue. Instead, we act irrationally, rushing to defend ourselves.

Before you can react to an issue at hand, take time to assess it. That way, before you make a phone call, send an email or take any further measures, you’ll have considered all the consequences.

Communicate Calmly

Be calm, respectful, and polite when communicating with the other side.

Upon receiving communication about the issue, take some time to cool off before you can respond. Only then can you stay composed when you engage with your client.

Don’t Get Out of Line

Sometimes, the heat that comes with conflicts can cause you to diverge from the matter at hand, leading to things getting personal.

Therefore, try as much as possible to stick to your professional line in solving the dispute because once you deviate from the issue at hand, it may be hard to come back from that path.

Avoid the Blame Game

You can’t resolve a conflict by blaming each other. Therefore, fight the urge to blame, even when you’re sure you’re not at fault. 

Blaming triggers anger from both sides, resulting in defensiveness, which solves nothing.

Understand the Dispute Well

With knowledge comes power. But with understanding, you earn respect.

Take time to understand the issue, and this may lay the platform for engagements with integrity.

By giving more thought to the dispute, you may realize it’s not as big a deal as you thought, or maybe what you need to do is advocate more for your rights.

Before jumping to any conclusions:

Examine the Issue from All Angles

Try to understand the issue from different perspectives. 

If you can understand what has annoyed the client, you stand a chance of coming up with the right way to approach it soberly.

If You’re to Blame, Take Responsibility

If you’ve played a part in the conflict, it’s only professional and fair to take responsibility.

By owning up to your role in the problem, you present yourself as your client’s credible freelance engineer or architect.

Maintain Your Integrity

If you’re to blame for the dispute that’s occurred, it’s normal to feel guilty because it compromises your integrity.

However, if it’s not the case and you’re not the cause, then, by all means, defend your integrity, but calmly and respectfully. Remember, it’s your work, and you have a reputation to maintain. 

Bring the Dispute to an End Fully

The reason you’re engaging with your client in the first place is to find a solution. Hopefully, a time will come when it feels like you can solve your differences and come to a consensus.

But don’t be in a hurry to conclude things. Instead, take your time to ensure you fix everything conclusively.

The Workalike Dispute Resolution Help

Workalike wants freelance architects and engineers to solve disputes with their clients amicably. Clients make deposits before the freelancer has started the work and once the job is complete, they may not be happy, resulting in conflicts with the freelancer. 

Solving the dispute amongst themselves may not lead to the conclusive solution. That’s where the Workalike dispute resolution comes in.

The Workalike team receives written arguments from both parties and analyzes them before concluding. Then, the team may decide to do any of the following:

  • Return the whole amount of the deposit to the client.
  • Release the total amount to the freelance architect or engineer.
  • Split the money between the two sides in certain proportions.

If there are other penalties or compensations enforced on either of the parties, Workalike doesn’t involve itself.


As a freelance engineer or architect, you’re bound to meet all sorts on the job. While this is generally a perk, it can mean having to brush up on your soft skills more often. 

Remember that you and your client both have the same goal and, ultimately, are on the same side. Therefore, when disputes arise, stay calm, retain your integrity as well as your client’s, and make sure that the dispute is resolved fully. 

If push comes to shove, the Workalike team is here for you!