Can We Talk? Navigating Difficult Client Conversations

Hear tips from experienced pros to help you master the hard conversations with clients.

In a perfect world, you and your client would always be “on the same page” and in agreement on the project at hand. Instead, we live in a world where you must manage professional and/or personal differences to maintain a strong business relationship. Now more than ever, navigating client communications and interactions are the key to success. Moderated by Phyllis Harbinger, FASID, CID, panelists Cheryl Luckett, John McClain, Associate ASID and Beth Diana Smith, Associate ASID share their insights and tips for navigating tough conversations with clients. Presented as part of the ASID Learn x Design at High Point Market Fall 2020 program.

This is a recording of a webinar presented on October 17, 2020.


What You Will Learn
  • Identify strategies and safeguards to help you avoid client conflicts
  • Describe the characteristics of strong contract
  • Recognize keywords and phrases used to defuse conflicts
  • Identify tools to communicate transparency in pricing and fees


Continuing Education Approvals
  • 1 IDCEC CEU | CC-113200 (Your CEU will be reported to IDCEC on your behalf.)

Related Content


Access Period: One year from date of registration.

Cheryl L. Luckett

Owner and Principal Designer, Dwell by Cheryl Interiors

With 15 year career in Corporate America as a Registered Dietitian and Human Resources professional, Cheryl launched Dwell by Cheryl Interiors in 2012 seeking a creative outlet and an opportunity to explore her passion for design. After five years and a carefully executed strategic plan designed to help make the transition easier, she made the decision to leave corporate life behind.  Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, Cheryl and her team provide clients with a professional and seamless design experience creating homes that are classic, colorful, cultured and cozy that allow their clients to live their fullest lives.  

 In 2018, she launched her first licensed collection of furniture with Sylvester Alexander called Belle by Cheryl Luckett.  Her work has been published both locally and nationally appearing in Traditional Home, Country Living and Southern Home.   

John McClain, Associate ASID

Principal Designer, John McClain Design

John McClain is the award-winning principal designer of John McClain Design, with offices in Los Angeles and Orlando.  John’s work has been featured in numerous publications, including Elle Décor and Traditional Home, and he is a contributor to outlets such as Martha Stewart Living, Interior Design and The Wall Street Journal, among others. In addition, John shares his design advice on television programs from HGTV to NBC. In 2016, he launched his own furnishings collection, formerly known as Gilded Home, now John McClain Home. Aesthetically, John marries the luxe sophistication of Hollywood Regency and Art Deco with the simplicity of mid-century modern, all fused with a fresh and current elegance. With a degree in Business Management, John has developed a unique approach to the interior design business model and recently launched an educational platform to help other designers set up and successfully operate their own firms. 

Beth Diana Smith, Associate ASID

Owner + Principal Designer, Beth Diana Smith Interior Design

Beth Diana Smith is the owner and principal designer of Beth Diana Smith Interior Design, a full-service interior design firm focused on the discerning client who desires a curated home with thoughtful details. She prides herself on her bold, eclectic style while creating a home’s story through renovation, curated pieces and customized design. Her goal for each client is to have them see another realm of possibility in how they can live.  

After Beth spent more than a decade in corporate accounting and finance, she decided to pursue interior design full time and obtained a degree from the New York School of Interior Design. She brought along a distinct set of skills such as budget management, presentation creation based on client needs and the ability to adapt quickly. These business skills allowed her to manage project/client budgets and the operation of her business, while focusing her design and creativity skills on for each project. Beth has been on NBC and HGTV and featured in various outlets including House Beautiful, Elle Decor, Real Simple, Lonny Magazine and Business of Home.  

Phyllis Harbinger, FASID, CID (Moderator)

Founder, Phyllis Harbinger Design and Business Consulting | Principal, DCI Studio

Phyllis Harbinger, FASID, CID, is a professional interior designer, author, speaker, and educator.  Since 1993, she has successfully run her award-winning firm, Design Concepts/Interiors, LLC, serving commercial and residential clients worldwide.   

In 2014, Phyllis published The Interior Design Productivity Toolbox, which streamlines processes and systems for interior designers, and also launched her business strategy and coaching business, providing a unique set of tools for designers, architects, and others in the design/build community.   

Phyllis is a tenured adjunct assistant professor of Interior Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), teaching Design Studio and Professional Practice for the past twenty years. She is a resident guest host of The Chaise Lounge and The Student Lounge podcasts. 

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Can We Talk? Navigating Difficult Client Conversations Part One
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Open to view video. View Part One of the webinar recording. You must watch at least 75% of the video to move forward to Part Two.
Can We Talk? Navigating Difficult Client Conversations Part Two
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Open to view video. View Part Two of the webinar recording. You must watch at least 75% of the video to move forward to Part Three.
Can We Talk? Navigating Difficult Client Conversations Part Three
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Open to view video. View Part Three of the webinar recording. You must watch at least 75% of the video to move forward to Part Four.
Can We Talk? Navigating Difficult Client Conversations Part Four
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Open to view video. View Part Four of the webinar recording. You must watch at least 75% of the video to move forward to take the quiz.
Can We Talk? Bonus Q&A
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Open to download resource. Download this bonus content of additional Q&A with the panelists post-webinar.
Can We Talk? Navigating Difficult Client Conversations Course Quiz
10 Questions  |  5 attempts  |  12/16 points to pass
10 Questions  |  5 attempts  |  12/16 points to pass You must score a minimum of 80% to pass this quiz and complete the course. You will have 5 attempts.
Can We Talk? Navigating Difficult Client Conversations Course Evaluation
9 Questions
9 Questions Please complete the survey to receive your course completion certificate.
IDCEC Course Completion Certificate
1.00 CEU credit  |  Certificate available
1.00 CEU credit  |  Certificate available 1 IDCEC CEU awarded upon successful completion of the course. REPORTING: ASID will report CEUs earned directly to IDCEC on your behalf if you are an ASID member.