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Next week I’ll be sharing share some tips and advice with a group of savvy solopreneurs about creating great client relationships. Here’s a biggie:

When meeting with a client – maybe it’s your introductory meeting or perhaps you’re 3 months into a project together – and she says something in a joking manner or with a shrug, it might feel easier and natural to laugh along with her and then continue on with your meeting agenda.
However, sometimes they are laughing when they say it, or speaking quietly, or under their breath, because there might be some element of shame or guilt, worry or embarrassment.

****DISCLAIMER: I am not a therapist. Just a business professional and observer of client behavior for nearly 20 years****

Especially if they are being self-deprecating in their comment.
Rather than “laugh with them” or brush off their concerns, dive into that.
I recall meeting with a couple who, during the course of our conversation, shared with me, “We’re high-maintenance.”
I could have easily laughed or said something to brush it off or make them feel better such as, “I’m sure you’re not.”
Instead I asked them why they describe themselves like this.
“Our friends give us a hard time because we get massages, buy special alkaline drinking water, try to eat only organic” etc. They were worried this impression of being “high-maintenance” might spill over into their ceremony.

This is an opportunity to provide a REFRAME for your client.

I responded, “That doesn’t sound high maintenance. It sounds like you care about your health and take good care of yourself; your energy and longevity is important to you.”
Weeks later at their wedding rehearsal, as they introduced me to friends and family they also said – more than once – “She says we’re honoring our temples and take good care of ourselves.”
I was thrilled they had embraced this new view of themselves, and could see the ease this created for them.

Over the years, so many clients have dropped these little phrases or comments – under their breath, in passing, in a joking manner:

I don’t want to be a bridezilla” or “I don’t want to be a pain in the ass.”

That is not a good feeling.
I like to find out why they have taken on this negative-feeling label for themselves.

Listen to them with Courage and ask WHY they feel that way. Have the courage to engage your client and really find out about their biggest worry or concern, which often shows up very quietly.
Then look for ways to reframe this perception as it applies to the service you are providing. (I’m not implying you solve their life problems, rather as it specifically relates to your business-client relationship.)

You might not have all the answers, but you can help them navigate the situation and find solutions together, and best of all, they will feel heard.

Gayle Feallock, owner of Just Imagine Love, is a ceremony officiant, speaker, and Reiki Master. Developing positive, successful relationships with hundreds of clients has been at the core of her professional life.


In light of events of the past year around issues and in situations of social and racial justice:
This approach can apply to every aspect of your life, with friends and family as well. For example, if a friend makes a joking comment that has somewhat racist overtones, why are they saying it with a joke or in passing? Again, I think because there might be some shame or embarrassment around it and they “float” these ideas to see how we respond.
Instead of just cringing inside or ignoring the comment, have the courage to ask an open-ended question: “Where did you hear that?” “What makes you say that?” “What does it mean when you say something like that?”
You’ll be amazed at where the answer might lead, and together you might be able to reframe that thought and offer an anti-racist one.

For more resources and information around social & racial justice:
SURJ – Showing Up for Racial Justice
Black Lives Matter
Anti-Racism Daily
Equality Institute
Bryana Clover, Educator & Activist

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