How To Work With Clients Who Can’t Make Up Their Minds columnist Alison Green answers questions about workplace and managerial issues—all off how to deal with a micromanaging boss how to talk to someone on your team about body odor.

Here is a summary of responses to four questions from readers.

1. Working with clients who can’t make up their minds

I work as a designer and lately I’ve had clients who couldn’t make up their minds. I end up going in circles with designs. It feels like an endless mole game, they ask for X, I give them X, but now they really want Y, so I give them Y, but actually we go back to X, no, never mind, let’s do Z, so give I Z them. I really want these gigs, but how do I tell them enough is enough with the redesigns? I find when I’ve been working with clients I’ve been more compliant because I want the job and when I say something it’s not always well received – maybe I’m usually frustrated at that point. How can I be nice and confident?

The easiest way to handle this in the future is to make it clear in your contract how many rounds of revisions are included in the scope of work (e.g. three). Then, when you send in the first design, remind them by saying, “Our contract allows for up to three rounds of revisions at this stage.” And if they come in after three rounds and they’re still revising, let them know how much additional revisions will cost (even better if you put that in the contract as well). Or if you want to be extra accommodating, you can say, “I can give you an extra round of revisions for free, but beyond that I would have to charge you for the extra work.”

It sounds like you don’t have that type of contract now, but you can still set limits – “I can do one more round of revisions after that, but then we’d be outside the scope of the project and I’d have to add on for more rounds.” Calculate (X $).”

2. Employee has already decorated for Christmas

I came into work this morning and one of my employees decorated her cubicle all for Christmas! We are a small office and we all celebrate Christmas…in December. How do I deal with this as a manager?

If she’s not the receptionist and her decorations don’t appear like the company’s decorations to visitors, don’t do anything. There’s no reason why she can’t decorate her cabin any way she wants, provided it’s not offensive in any way.

As a manager, you want to give your employees as much freedom as possible by default, as long as it doesn’t interfere with their work, the work of other people, or the functioning of the team or the organization as a whole. There is no reason to intervene here.

3. My co-worker keeps invading my personal space

I lead a team of 13 people. One of my newest reporters got hired in January. He’s probably 10-15 years older than me (I’m 30) and used to manage two people in a similar role to mine (of a smaller scope) before starting his own business for a few years and now this industry is coming back.

There have been a number of issues since he started, but one I don’t know how to address: it’s an invasion of my privacy. Whenever he comes into my office for a quick question, he walks over to my side of the desk and puts a foot beside me while waiting for an answer. Worse, during our 1-on-1 meetings, he grabs the chair from the opposite side of my desk and loops it around the side (so he sits next to me instead of directly across from me). While it was an invitation during training so that I could show him things on my monitors, this phase is long gone. I’ve tried asking if he wants to show me something or if I should show something on my monitors and even kicked my computer around and piled up paperwork making him uncomfortable to sit there, but it’s obvious become I have to address it directly. Any advice on how to tell him to stay on the other side of my desk?

Just be factual about it. Don’t treat it as something you’re very uncomfortable about (which will make everyone involved feel even more uncomfortable).

The next time he walks around your desk and stands next to you, point to the chair and say, “Sit down! If he says it’s just a quick question and he doesn’t have to sit down, say, “Sure!

The next time he starts pulling a chair, immediately say, “Would you mind sitting across from where I had the chair?” Now that we don’t have to share the monitor for training, it’s more convenient for me if we sit directly across from each other at the desk.”

And if he’s still pushing it: “I have a bit of a personal space bubble, so please have a seat!”

4. Is it unprofessional to bring your own drink to an offsite meeting?

Is it unprofessional to bring my own coffee (or tea) to external meetings with partners/clients? I feel like there is a negative connotation to showing up to a coffee chain meetup with a mug, although I really don’t know where I got the idea from. Is it better if I bring my drink from home in a plain travel mug or is that a bit unprofessional too?

There aren’t any hard and fast rules for this, but in general I’d say that once you have an established business relationship with someone, it’s fine. I wouldn’t do it on a first date because it can seem overly casual (or as an expectation that they aren’t hospitable enough to offer you a drink). But once you’ve established a working relationship, I think it’s fine (and at this point, it shouldn’t matter if you pick up a coffee shop mug or your own travel mug from home).

Would you like to ask a question of your own? send it [email protected].

The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own and not those of

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