When Communication May Be the Culprit

Ever find yourself frustrated with a client?  Ever feel as if a client may be frustrated with you or your business?  The culprit of this mutual frustration may not be the clashing of ideas, personalities or even egos.  It could be something as simple as a lack of understanding in the communication channel.  Be advised, communication errors are simple because they’re easy to make, and sometimes overlooked, but are anything but insignificant.  Yet, they are quite easy to remedied.

A bit of advice I’ve taken from a human resources expert in how to diffuse an argument or a conflict is to simply say: “You may be right” or “I might be wrong”.  You’re not confirming taking blame or placing blame, but you’re taking away the issue that is causing the current riff.  Useful when dealing  with clients and customers.

But if the riff in the relationship is from not clearly understanding each other or what either of you mean, before getting frustrated, it’s best if you first re-evaluate how you’re both communicating and the terminology of that communication.  If you or your client do business in a specialized industry full of technical terms and one party has no clue what the other party is talking about, address that issue immediately.  Don’t think that you have to eliminate such words, just make sure both parties are willing to explain what those terms mean and to the relation of your business.  For instance, if your client is an auto mechanic starting his own business and needs your marketing expertise, you may not know all the parts of car he’s referring to and he may not know they areas of marketing you’re talking about.  As the marketing expert, breaking what marketing is and what forms of what marketing you’d like to use to help promote his business and have him explain which parts of the car are important enough to use to help promote his business.  Doesn’t have to be over-complicated.

Terms aren’t the only thing that can trip up communication.  Time lapses.  It may have only been a week since you last spoke to your client, but in the meantime, they’ve been handling orders, shipments, new employee or whatever else and don’t remember the previous conversation.  Most of us, email…A LOT.  Which means, we can always refer to those email correspondences to refresh our memories, but we can’t expect our clients to have the time to do the same.  A little recap of the previous conversation or notes at the beginning of the email or phone conference can jog the memory keep the progress moving forward.

Occasionally, we get frustrated when handling a project for a client.  Something may be delayed, something may be missing or something may be incorrect and it could be because something simply got lost in the communication.   And that happens.  Accept it, but correct it.  At the end of the day, it’s not personal… it’s professional.   And we need to remain so.


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