I'm sure many of you have encountered clients that are, well, difficult and obstructive. Not because they have legitimate work-related concerns or problems, nor because you are somehow rubbing them up the wrong way, but simply because they have a personality defect. You know, the sort that are vicious, spiteful idiots for no reason other than perhaps they don't like the look of your face (or something like that). Or perhaps because they think you're paid more than them and this conflicts with their inner view of themselves as being superior. Who knows what their reason is. But I'm sure that at least some of you have come across these kinds of people in the past. Occasionally, you see them acting in a similar way to other people - being dismissive of them, harming their reputation behind their back, not returning calls, trying to 'one-up' them during meetings, taking them to 'one side' in front of their colleagues in order to 'correct' them about something or tell them how they could have done it better (but not in a genuine kind of way, more of a one-upmanship kind of way), that kind of thing. There seemingly is no rhyme or reason to their behaviour or the pattern of who they 'target' in this way.
Anyhow, any idea how to deal with them? Being nice or trying to win them over doesn't work. Taking a hard line would not work either - they may not be the project sponsor, but they are nonetheless part of the client team, and clients don't tend to like it when you start being critical of one of their own. Audit trails and logical reasoning put you in a no-win situation too... you don't generally want to get dragged down to that level. And avoiding them, simple as it sounds, just isn't possible either, short of rolling off the project.
I guess I could start doing a bit of one-upmanship myself, starting by recommending to their FD that we audit something in his/her area of responsibility in great detail and then ultimately positioning him/her as a whipping boy that keeps getting called up in front of their audit committee to 'explain' why various things they are responsible for haven't gone to plan or why they haven't done certain things (I'm sure I could find many seemingly bona-fide examples if I wanted to)... but quite frankly I've got more personal integrity than that, and besides, I've also got better and more productive things to do with my time. Negative energy is not my 'thing'.
Anyhow, would appreciate your views too. Thoughts/ideas please?