As Stephen Covey said: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
Understanding the needs of our clients and ourselves are important foundations for a healthy environment. Before we can begin to solve problems we must understand what they are and how they affect us and what we can do to remedy the situation. Spending time diagnosing a situation before jumping in with possible solutions is an intelligent way to run your business. Weighing the merits of possible courses of action against their costs, predicted outcome, and the availability of time, resources, and the skills necessary, help us make informed decisions.
Communication with our clients is important. Knowing how they want to communicate is critical. There are some who love to talk on the phone. Others, like short, terse emails or texting. Determining the style of communication that matches the preferences of your clients will make a hugh difference in your relationships.
Beware too of over communication. Just because it is easy to write an e-mail or post a status update on social media, doesn’t mean this is the best way for you to build your relationships. Respecting the needs and style of your communication partners is key to a nurturing relationship. For many of us, nothing will replace the completeness of face-to-face communication, it trumps most written communication in its ability to foster an exchange of ideas and the collaborative outcome. Easy does not always equal clarity.
Seeking to understand the needs and fears of our clients requires active listening. Learning what is important to your clients will influence your interactions and outcomes. Develop your skills at asking questions. It will help you build strong relationships.
5 ways to nurture your business garden
- Ask questions – probe until you have a good understanding of the client, their problems and what is important to them.
- Verify what you heard.
- Engage and agree on a course of action.
- Check in with your clients as often as they would like to hear from you.
- Give the gift of your attention — be present and engaged.
Clients, like plants, need attention, protection, and nourishment to grow strong. Attention is an investment that pays dividends over time.