If you love your client, you will…
Recently, I’ve been realizing that I really love my clients. How do I show this? There may be a couple of things that you are already doing but I’ve decided I want to be more conscious about what I do and will share that with you now. I’m going to talk about the top 5 things I do to show I love my clients.
The Language of Love
First, let me share an old resource with you that talks about 5 love languages which might spark some ideas in you and give you the context for what I mean by “love your client”. This comes from a book by Gary Chapman called, The Five Love Languages. The book is subtitled, How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. However, I have found it really useful, not only as a way of thinking about my spouse/partner, but also about my clients, colleagues and my family and friends. Gary says that after counseling people for 30 years he has discovered 5 emotional love languages or 5 ways people speak and understand emotional love. The important thing is to speak the love language of the person you want to build a good relationship with, in this case, your client. Since we each have life experiences and perhaps even hard wiring that contribute to our own preferred 2 or 3 love languages, we tend to think everyone speaks the ones that we prefer. This unfortunately is not true. If we as leaders of the world can learn to speak all 5 love languages fluently, we will reach many more people. So what are they?
1) Acts of Service: You do small jobs or tasks for your team members that they don’t want to do. Basically, this love language is about doing things for others that they will greatly appreciate. How do you know they might appreciate an act of service? Listen for words like, “I don’t know how to do this”, “I’m having trouble with this”, “I wish I could get some help on this”.
2) Words of Affirmation: You say nice things about your team members that they don’t normally hear. This is about offering a very specific appreciation of something this person does or says, and/or about how they look. Listen for body language and look at their face when you see them being appreciated by someone else. If they light up and seem to bask in the complement, you know they are probably a person who needs words of affirmation.
3) Quality Time: You make sure you spend as much time as your client needs to think about the task ahead. You do not talk about deadlines, needing to go on to the next task, arrive late or leave early to your meetings with them. You act as if you have all the time in the world while still being effective and efficient. You know your client appreciates quality time if they spend a little time socializing with you and ask to meet you in person or at a coffee shop. Listening well is an aspect of quality time.
4) Physical Touch: This one is obviously a little tricky with clients but I actually hug a lot of my clients and ask them if I can do so. Obviously, once I know them a little better. You can usually tell a person who appreciates physical touch by the amount of time they spend holding your hand in a handshake, or if they tend to give you a pat on the shoulder or seem very relaxed in a hug.
5) Receiving Gifts: Receiving gifts is thinking clearly about your client or team members, what they might like and choosing a gift that you think might be meaningful to them. Gifts do not necessarily have to be expensive or cost anything. A person who loves receiving gifts will not care. It might be as simple as offering the bouquet of flowers you brought for the workshop to your client once the workshop is complete. It might mean following up with an article or link that is of particular interest to them. For example, when I was training in Singapore, my Singaporian colleagues brought me these gifts one morning, a flashing toy lantern for the lantern festival and two kinds of carrot cake! They were amongst the most impressive gift givers I have ever met. I have been taking lessons from all of my Asian colleagues on this lovely love language.
5 Things to Show You Love Your Client
(and usually they will love you back)
1. Pay Attention to the State of Being of Your Client or Teams
Do they seem nervous, overwhelmed, exhausted? What are some things you can do to take away some of the tasks on their plate? For example, the other day I was working with a client and she was going to put together the participant agenda and some context notes to send out with the invitation. I realized that she might have too much on her plate so I did this for her and sent it over with a short note, “Just in case this is helpful, please feel free to refine and use.” She was enormously gratified as it probably only took me 15-20 minutes versus perhaps an hour for her to do it. (Acts of Service)
2. Tell Your Client How Much You Like Working With Them
Sometimes it just comes to me in a flash as I’m co-designing a session with my client group or we’re setting the room up together how much I enjoy the camaraderie that we’ve created as a team. When you have an inner thought like this, why not share it with your client? Be specific about what you appreciate about them. Perhaps it is just that they have been very responsive to your requests, or they provided you with the level of resources to do a good job. (Words of Affirmation)
3. Take Care of Your Own State of Being
A little while ago I watched two episodes of a fairly, let’s just say, active police style television show the night before a facilitated meeting I was leading. The result was I couldn’t sleep all night. That is not an act of love toward your client to show up tired and perhaps not thinking as well as you’d like to. Normally, I try to be well prepared and finish my preparation at least a few hours before I go to bed. I try to get to bed early and not have too many stimulants the day before. For me that is chocolate, for some others it might be alcohol or coffee. I’m going to call this Quality Time that you give to yourself to feel refreshed, alert, calm so that you give Quality Time to your client group. (Quality Time)
4. Watch How Your Client Responds to Physical Closeness
I can sometimes be very direct by first stating something about myself and then asking permission of the client. For example, it might sound like this, “I really like hugs – may I hug you as an expression of my appreciation to you?” It may be less obvious for you so feel free to lean in towards your client when they’re speaking, showing a lot of empathy on your face when they are recounting a powerful story, or giving them a firm but warm handshake. (Physical Touch)
5. Observe Your Client’s Preferences and Offer That to Them in the Form of Gifts
I’ve had clients and participants “fall in love” with some of my toys that I bring to my workshop. If I can replace it fairly easily I usually offer them the gift of that toy. I’m actually not very good at giving gifts and so I try to learn from my colleagues more about this. Some of my colleagues write great thank you notes and this has the effect of both words of affirmation and a gift. E-cards on the anniversary date of a strategic plan might be a cool gift. (Receiving Gifts)