I read a lot of blogs and articles that always tell you to talk to your clients. Really talk to them and find out what they want. I’ve encouraged you to do that too, but I forgot to mention a crucial piece of that – listening. Today I want to talk about what it means to really listen to your clients.

The way I define listening is the act of actively paying attention to what someone else says with the intention of understanding and relating to them. Most of us don’t do this. We hear instead. You see, hearing is the act of only partially being part of the conversation because you are waiting to speak. We’re too busy trying to figure out our “perfect” response or subtly looking around the room. This is why things get missed. Now I don’t about you, but for me, whenever a client or I am simply hearing and not actively listening is when we end up having issues with each other.

Actively listening during a client call sets you up for success because you know exactly what the client’s “pain points” are that you need to help them solve which increases your chances for a job well done, it helps build your rapport or your “know-like-trust” factor, and it makes sure you and the client understand each other which reduces mistakes, assumptions, and gets the work done a little faster.

So how do you do a good job listening to your clients?

First off, limit your distractions. If you know you’re going to get distracted, then find a location that won’t have too much going on. You can use a conference room or rent an office if you don’t have one. Most restaurants are pretty slow around 2-3 pm so it’s a great time to meet clients. Sit facing a wall so you can only look at your client and not around the room. If you need something to do with your hands, consider taking notes with a pen and paper. This will also help you retain more information afterward and give you some notes to check on while working with this client.

Next, show that you’re actively listening. This can include eye contact, nodding your head as they speak, and leaning towards the person speaking. Be aware though that not all cultures follow this, so make sure you understand who you’re speaking with and what would be appropriate “listening” behavior.

Ask questions about and validate what they said. It would look like repeating back what they said with an agreement or acknowledgment statement and then asking a follow-up question. As an example, if I were working on a logo with someone who just shared an image they like with me, this might look like “great, I like that inspiration image! What do you love the most about it?” or it can look like “okay, thanks for sharing that image with me. Can you tell me more about why you chose it?”. This way the other person knows you are listening and really understanding what they said. You can repeat things back for clarity too, but the point is to be an active part of the conversation while giving them the space to say what they feel you need to know.

These are a few ways to show you’re actively listening during a client call and set yourself up for success.

Alright, that’s it for today…I’ll talk to you soon!



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