An issue that keeps coming up for several of my students lately is having better communication with clients. The fact of the matter is that in business you need to learn how to communicate effectively. Otherwise, things can get messy.
I personally think there’s an advantage to business communication. In our culture, it’s generally understood that business isn’t personal, it’s just business. In my opinion, this can make being direct much easier because everyone already has an understanding of how this works.
Of course, some may differ in their opinion, and that’s okay. Either way here’s how to have better communication with clients as you build your business.
The first step to having better communication with clients is to set boundaries.
The good news about this is sometimes you don’t even have to say anything in order to set a boundary. For example, I have a cut-off time for work. I don’t work nights and I’m not responding to you over the weekend. I don’t have to say this, I simply take the action.
However, there are instances in which you have to verbally set a boundary as well. For example, prospects will try to get more information out of you for free during a sales consultation. It’s not malicious, it’s just the way we humans roll.
If they start asking specific questions you know you should be getting paid for, you can respond with “That’s a great question and it’s something I work on with my clients. Right now we’re just trying to figure out X to see if we can work together.”
That usually shuts it down pretty quickly. You also let them know you have boundaries that are to be respected. If they want more information, then they have to pay.
Be honest and direct.
The next strategy for having better communication with clients is to be honest and direct. I often speak with business owners who sugar coat things for clients and then wonder why their clients aren’t making any progress. It’s because they aren’t being honest about the reality of their clients’ situation.
Again, it’s completely appropriate to be direct in business. You have to be in order for things to continue moving forward. The way I like to explain it is you’re being honest. That’s it.
What ends up happening as a result is prospects, clients and customers start to respect you because they know you won’t deceive them.
Know the difference between assertiveness and aggression.
In business, you need to be assertive in order to have better communication with clients. The problem is many business owners confuse assertiveness with aggression.
I once stumbled upon a definition of assertiveness that completely changed my life. I’ve paraphrased it below:
“Assertiveness is when you value everyone at the table equally, including yourself. Aggression is when you value yourself more than others. Passivity is when you see yourself as less than others.”
In other words, assertiveness is really just about respect and fairness. It’s about making sure everyone wins. There is absolutely nothing aggressive about such a notion.
Having better communication with clients will significantly improve your business operations and your life. While these skills take some practice, it’s worth learning how to communicate effectively.
Amanda is a best-selling author of "Make Money Your Honey", a book that helps freelancers and business owners understand their relationship with money and how to make it more productive. She's driven by helping others live the most productive and fruitful way possible.