Have you ever thought about what elements are involved in making a person an individual? What is it that makes us exceptional people? Working in the image field, the first area that comes to mind is a person’s appearance. This includes their physical stature, coloring, accoutrement and grooming (visual). The next area is their behavior (body language). Do they exhibit good behavior? A good posture shows they are strong and confident. A poor posture shows that they are lax. The third area is communication (verbal and non-verbal), what they say and how they say it.
In addition, we all have a life of unique experiences that cannot be duplicated. Let’s call it the “life experience”, one that is, for good and bad, a treasure we each own. Discovering a client’s individuality requires, at a minimum, a little knowledge of that life experience. Therefore, we need to explore those fascinating aspects of working with people in all walks of life and getting to know them. Developing a unique and customized program for a client requires that we learn, understand, and appreciate that client’s special skills, life experiences and needs. Only then can we begin to better understand the social and psychological elements that complete the portrait of our client.
Image consultants are not necessarily interchangeable. Finding a skilled image consultant to transform one’s image requires a level of consultant-client symbiosis. That is, a relationship that is in tune between consultant and client. There will be times when a consultant and client are not a good fit, or perhaps a client is looking for something that is not in their area of expertise. A professional and technically savvy consultant will recognize this less than ideal relationship and make an introduction to a fellow Image colleague that may be a better fit. You’ve heard the old adage, it is in giving that we receive and so goes in business.
Some tools that may help you are an understanding that the Art of Conversation begins at birth. Then it goes from the dinner table to the schoolroom, to interaction with friends, to the work place and on to other places where all manner of social interaction are required. A key to the art of conversation is learning how to be an effective and active listener.
Active and Effective Listening can help to open the lines of communication and really discover the unique nature and treasures that is comprised in each client.
Active and Effective Listening begins by hearing what the client has to say and respecting their thoughts. Listening makes our relationships move to deeper levels. As we listen, we foster the same skill in other by acting as a model for positive and effective communication. Listening skills fuel our emotional, social and profession success. Consider incorporating the following with your clients:
- Always face the client.
- Keep an open mind (wait to speak until your client finishes).
- Focus completely on what the client is saying
- Release your thoughts, minimize your internal distractions.
- Maintain good eye contact.
- Minimize all distraction/ turn off all electronics, remove extra papers and magazines.
- Don’t make assumptions about what your client thinks.
- Involve yourself by asking questions for clarification.
- Avoid giving advice unless the client asks how you handled a situation (this is their time to talk).
- On the average we can hear four times faster than we can talk, so we have the ability to sort ideas as they come in, and then be ready to hear more.
Listen with your ears but hear with your heart! This will help you all areas of your personal and professional life.
Celebrate our own authentic style and while respecting the style of our clients.
©Cindy Ann Peterson 2015 All Rights Reserved www.cindyannpeterson.com
Co-Author of “The Power of Civility” with Civility-Making It a Lifestyle and “My Style, My Way” with Posture is Paramount, your key to your future.
An Image of Distinction: Couture Design and Professional Image Management