02/15/2008 04:37 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Is Your Client a Certified Asshole? Take the ACHE to Find Out

I was recently reminded about the damage that nasty clients can do by a distraught manager at a professional services firm. He wrote: "These jerky people (whom I encounter ad nauseam at the highest levels in all Fortune 50 companies) sap the life out of our employees and make creating a sustainable, culturally viable environment difficult. They are also poisonous to innovation." This pain expressed in his note helped me realize that, just as a lot of people (now over 135,000) have found the ARSE test (Asshole Rating Self-Exam) useful (and entertaining), it might also be helpful to assess whether or not clients are certified assholes. So, with help from the people at Electric Pulp and some great feedback from Mark Fortier and Diego Rodriguez, I developed the 20 question Asshole Client from Hell Exam (ACHE).

Consider a few sample items:

* My stomach churns whenever I have to email, meet, or talk on the phone with this client

* When my client starts turning on the charm, then I really start worrying. It usually means that at an unreasonable request is coming.

* If I am ever crazy enough to work for this client again, I will charge A LOT more money to compensate for the stress and aggravation (i.e., I will charge "assholes taxes.")

Take the ACHE here. You can use it to help decide if it is worth the trouble to keep working with a client or, at least, if they ought to pay "asshole taxes." You can use it to screen future clients: send it to others who have worked with them to find out if they are a client from hell. And if you are a client, and feel like most lawyers, management consultant, designers, accountants, and IT consultants that you hire are complete idiots, that you find yourself being gruff with them, and that fewer and fewer of them seem willing to work with you -- and those that will keep raising their rates -- you might take the ACHE as a self-test to see if you are causing the problem.

We launched the ACHE last week on Guy Kawasaki's blog and over 3000 people have already completed it. Please let me know what you think of it. And I'd love to hear stories about different ways that you have used it - or about ways that it has been used on you.