So what do I mean, communication begins before you’ve hired your client?
When you choose your clients based on the qualities you want them to possess, you’ll have made an end run around hundreds of emails worth of communication blunders.
Do you know the qualities, values, and work ethic your ideal clients possess?
Want a peek into mine?
My ideal clients have integrity.
They make quick decisions and take immediate action.
They have clarity in their vision (or are willing to be coached into clarity)
They are honest and authentic.
They hold joy, fun, and relationships as their top priorities in life.
They are value providers, not value extractors.
They shine from the inside out and are easily excited.
They are solution finders.
They are positive people.
They celebrate other people’s wins, and highly appreciate the services others provide.
I communicate best with these kinds of people because our values and qualities are similar.
It’s easy to effectively communicate with people who speak your language; otherwise you’re often stuck with wild hand gestures and many misunderstandings. If you’ve ever been to a country where you don’t speak the same language, you’ll know what this is like.
Your clients aren’t any different.
Take some time to write out your client’s characteristics. Think of your favorite people to work with (past or present)? Why did you love them so much? What made it easy? What made it fun? Write it down.
You’ll start to see a pattern.
Now when a new prospect comes knocking at your door, you can look for the qualities that make an all-star client – if they don’t possess them, tread very carefully darlings.
If you and your client are not a good fit and you proceed (crikey), you’ll end up drained, they’ll end up dissatisfied, and situations that litter the pages of http://clientsfromhell.net will ensue.
I promise you that.
It is better to walk away, or better yet, recommend them to another service provider, than try to muscle through, drained and desperate.
You didn’t start your business so you could end up hating it. <<tweet
That’s the foundation for clear client communication.
The following points are to ensure continued clarity and help you with any communication issues you may be experiencing now.
Set expectations early on. When you’re interviewing a client you can include in your conversation how they can expect to work with you. If you’ve been in the game for a while, set some expectations for moving forward. It’s never too late to guide the relationship (unless it’s too late, then turn and burn baby)
State your needs. If something’s not working for you, speak up. (nicely and respectfully of course) Many misunderstandings occur because someone is afraid to step up and say what they want, desire, or require. It can be uncomfortable, mostly because we’re afraid of a negative reaction, but it’s necessary if you don’t want fly into space fueled on your own frustration.
Create boundaries and stick to them. I don’t work on weekends; which means I don’t answer email on weekends (is says so right on my autoresponder). It’s a boundary I have between my work and my life, and I let my clients know right off the bat. I have a colleague who doesn’t do any business in her Facebook chat.
Whatever boundaries work for you and keep you in your most elevated state (and therefore best able to serve) implement them. You’re doing everyone – even your cat – a disservice if you don’t.
Pick Up the Phone. Sometimes you just need to have a 5 minute conversation to avoid 10 rounds of convoluted email exchanges. If you’re not getting anywhere with your written communique, call them up.
Give respect, receive respect. You are not a minion or a servant. You are a partner in the elevation of mind, body, business, or soul (depending on your service). Your position is to better the lives of the people you working with. Your clients are out to do the same for others.
The best relationships are built upon mutual admiration and respect. Expect, accept, and deliver nothing less. <<tweet
And lastly, Be the best version of yourself that you know how to be. That means the clearest, most honest, most authentic, and most energetic version of you.
Put THAT person out there and I doubt you’ll have problems with your client communication.
If something is not working, move on, and in the future, only hire qualified clients – they make work fun again.
This Ninja musing comes to you as part of the October Word Carnival, where every month a group of small business Carnies (owners) gather round to share their – often hilarious – wisdom about business and life. This month’s theme: Can You Hear Me Now: How To Make Sure You And Your Customers Are Speaking The Same Language. Check out the other Carnies’ posts here.