How you communicate directly impacts your client relationships
How often do you get yourself in trouble because a situation has been misunderstood?
How often do you have to tell people what you “really” meant or that you didn’t like how you learned about a situation?
How upset do your clients and customers get about a product being unavailable?
How much do you dread letting them know that the product isn’t available because of how they will react?
All these scenarios often have nothing to do with what you need to communicate but rather with how you deliver the message.
How you deliver the message plays out both in what I like to call big “C” communications – big corporate announcements and organizational strategy – and in little “c” communications – emails and difficult conversations for example.
Believe it or not, much of the way we think and behave is unconscious. What we value, what we believe, our memory of a situation and past behaviours all feed into how we receive and deliver information.When we become aware of how we come across we can take control of how we communicate with others.Click To Tweet
And this isn’t just the “soft stuff” of business.
Neuroscientists have been studying human behaviour for decades. I turned to Neuro-linguistic Programming for Dummies by Romilla Ready and Kate Burton to provide some scientific backing for what has been intuitive for me for a long time.
Here are four ways neuroscience tells us we can help our audience be receptive to our message. To conclude, I’ll give you five practical tips to put this science into use.
Mirror your audience’s actions and behaviours
Have you ever walked into a restaurant or bar and noticed how people are interacting with each other?
Have you noticed groups of people who seem to dress similarly, or how married people seem to come to even look alike over time? Matching and mirroring is when you take on someone else’s style of behaviour as well as their skills, values, or beliefs in order to create rapport.
This will make your audience feel comfortable and more likely to listen to what you have to say. You can deliberately match and mirror someone by:
- Body postures and gestures
- How quickly you breathe
- How quickly you speak or move
- How your voice sounds
CAUTION: You don’t want to mimic people. There is a fine line between moving in rhythm with someone and fitting in, or mimicry. People will know if you are being insincere.
Listen so you know what people are looking for
If you want to really have people buy into what you are saying, then you must truly be present and LISTEN. And that means making sure they know they have been heard.
Acknowledge their point of view, understand where they are coming from and above all, be patient.
Build rapport when communicating virtually
To build rapport in today’s age of virtual offices, make sure you:
- Speak more slowly to ensure people can hear you
- Make sure you have people’s attention before you make your point
- Use people’s names more often than you might in face-to-face meetings so they feel included and heard
- Visualise the person at the end of the phone line as you listen to the conversation
- If you are in a video-conference, look into the camera and appear to be visually present (no escaping to Facebook during teleconferences here!)
- Summarise the meeting afterwards and confirm via email what was decided upon
Use multiple ways of communicating to make sure your message gets across:
Find out who your audience is. If they are audio listeners, the words you use will be important. If your audience is more visual, then graphs, charts and pictures will help them remember information.
Kinaesthetic audiences will focus on the tone of your voice and the feeling they experienced upon receiving the information.
So what does this mean for your daily interactions with your clients?
- Ensure you have their attention before sharing your message.
- Did they understand what you had to say? Ask questions to probe their response to your conversation.
- Use language and mannerisms your clients can relate to – use mirroring to deliver messages in a way that makes them feel comfortable.
- Follow-up with email after decisions are made to ensure you’re both on the same page.
- Have you inspired them to act? Find out what they care about so you can better motivate them to participate in your desired outcome.
Following the tips included in this article will shape how you deliver your message and guarantee improved communications with your clients.
Take some time to truly understand and internalize these techniques and you will be well on your way to avoiding difficult situations.
About the Author, Susan Elford
Susan Elford, PR Strategist & Leadership Coach, works with start-ups and seasoned entrepreneurs to help them get real about their strengths and celebrate them so they get more of what they want; clients, exposure and success, while living a life of balance.