I learned a valuable lesson–everyone wants to be treated differently and part of my job is to figure it out. The old bible mantra “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” is apparently not the way to win when it comes to interpersonal and business relationships.
Although you were probably always taught to treat others as you’d like to be treated, you also have to treat them as they want to be treated. Making others happy and encouraging them to perform at their optimal level is a combination of teaching them how to treat you, and taking the time to learn how they want to be treated. The perfect balance takes time and patience to achieve, but it will work to everyone’s advantage once the details are figured out and actions are executed.
Think of it this way–when I call a client, I know I have to treat them how they want to be treated. I know that some clients have children and love it when I asked how they are doing (and because I love children, I enjoy the conversation). Other clients are so busy that when I call I must have my thoughts organized and be cognizant of sticking to the designated time frame. We usually get down to business, then shoot the $hit for a bit post business conversation (if time allows).
I also quickly learn and identify appropriate communication styles. Some clients are always up for a joke and love to laugh. Others want reports and details, which are cut and dry minus any side conversation. I must observe and learn how to take these preferences into consideration and determine how to communicate on a level that my clients prefer. By doing this, the conversations are productive and the work meets (and exceeds) their expectations.
One way, which guides me through the rocky communication waters is to ask for feedback. Once I deliver a report or complete a project, I ask the client for feedback. The feedback they provide helps me understand how we can work together more effectively and what they did and didn’t like about the process or service.
Think about it. We all have opinions and preferences, but how often does someone take the time to ask instead of just assume or treat you like everyone else…or worse, how they want to be treated?! 🙂