We all have instincts that make us feel receptive to a product or turn us away from an offer. The question is WHY we feel the way we do.
Developing healthy relationships is necessary for life, but it is not easy. Diverse backgrounds contribute to the complexity of a situation, but everyone is human. The phrase, “treat people the way you would like to be treated” sounds cliche but transcends cultural boundaries. Think about your last positive and negative interaction with someone. Why did you feel that way?
After countless meetings as a client and with clients, I have identified seven attributes that have enriched my personal life and have helped me build effective relationships. The common factor among the seven = respecting and valuing TIME, our most precious commodity.
1. Confidence: I always do my homework before speaking with a client by researching pertinent topics and reading articles that relate to the topic of interest. The information from my research is used to ask my client informed follow-up questions. In return, I expect to receive responses that will help me tailor my implementation plan. By asking thoughtful questions, my clients trust that I can get the job done because I have taken time to understand their situation.
2. Trust: Trust is developed through responsive interaction and intuition. I listen to my clients' needs before providing a response or interjecting my perspective. Honest and constructive feedback is provided as necessary, and I take client confidentiality very seriously. Gossiping about someone or something is bad practice, can damage your reputation, and is a waste of time.
3. Honesty: I ask for clarification or provide my interpretation of the issue if I do not fully understand the clients' perspective. When I am not familiar with a topic, I admit it. Pretending to sound intelligent about something out of my purview tends to have a negative effect on the quality of my product and with relationships moving forward.
4. Respect: I typically begin initial email exchanges by writing, " Dear Mr./Ms.," or "Hello Mr./Ms.," if I do not know the person. Similarly, I may call someone Mr. or Ms. depending on the context of the situation. Earning respect takes time, but addressing your client with his/her proper title will only help your situation.
5. My client is my priority: Regardless of my schedule, I always give 100% of my attention to a client meeting whether it is in person or over the phone. They need to feel like they are #1, because they are.
Tip: Never tell your client, “It’s been so long since we talked, and I haven’t looked at your file in a while.” I have had some people say that to me in the past, and they are automatically red flagged on my list of referrals.
6. Punctuality: Time is valuable commodity. I cannot stress this enough. If I attend a meeting in person, I estimate the amount of time it will take to arrive, and I take unforeseen traffic delays into account. If I am late, I notify my client as soon as possible. Generally speaking, I try not to postpone meetings more than two times.
7. Mind My Manners: I put myself on mute when I am on a call so the sound of keyboard strokes do not interrupt the flow of conversation. When I meet with people in person, my phone is placed on silent in my bag, I have a notebook out, and I make appropriate eye contact with the person who is speaking. Each situation varies, and observing social cues are critical to building client confidence and trust.
Take these seven attributes into account the next time you are receiving services, or you are scheduling a meeting with a client regardless cultural background. Paying attention to these mannerisms have saved me a substantial amount of time and I have gained a reputation that reflects my persona.
When in doubt, ask yourself how you would like to be treated, and treat your client with equal respect.