Ok now before we start our post this week, I wanted to first say that I hope you had a WONDERFUL Fourth of July and second that this is the last and final reminder that the 20% off EVERYTHING sale officially ends TODAY!! So if you’ve been meaning to snag it these last couple of weeks but just keep forgetting to, well, forget no more. Today is your last day to capture all the ways that you can take your client experience to an exceptional level. Say hello to setting clear but kind expectations and boundaries, and goodbye to working too hard for too little. So go on and gift it to yourself by using the code SUMMERSALE or visiting us here!
Did I Do Something Wrong?
Alright, now onto this week’s post! Tell me if you’ve found yourself in this same situation. Every now and again I’ll get a text or an email from someone and it gives me pause. It seems a bit curt. It seems short, but certainly not sweet. I asked, “Would you be able to come over?” and their reply was just, “Yeah.” So I start to think, “did I do something? What are they upset about? I don’t remember doing anything that would irritate them but maybe that’s the problem?” and on and on the worry goes.
Then it’s almost time to see them. I remember the rather stunted reply that they gave me before and start to ponder how they’ll act when I see them in person. When I do, nothing seems wrong. Everything seems completely hunky dory. That’s strange, what happened? Are they just pretending to be happy with me, or, the more likely answer, was nothing wrong all along?
I’m guessing you’ve experienced a similar scenario over the years with a friend, a family member, or a colleague. When they’re with you they seem perfectly pleasant but via email or text they’re a completely different person, rather blunt and to the point. What gives? Are they secretly hiding their true (read, negative) feelings for you when you’re with them, but when they’re writing to you they let their real disdain come out? I’m going to guess not. Instead, it’s most likely a case of …. not writing like you talk.
Write Like You Talk to Keeps Things Consistent and Clear
And most of the time not writing like you talk is not only ok, it’s encouraged. We don’t want to write as informally as we talk as it often comes off as unprofessional. What happens though when your writing also becomes informal, so much so that your tone and intent is lost because of word choice (and word count) and there’s a lack of punctuation? Well, then we risk being misunderstood and our words can become scarily misconstrued. With friends and family members it’s bad enough, but thankfully you often have the chance to right the confusion or over time you just learn “that’s how they are.” With a client however, we’re obviously and unfortunately not given the same kinds of graces.
Let’s take a look at how this all might play out. Let’s say a client emails her designer a picture of a fabric that she found in a magazine. She asks the designer if she can find more information on the fabric so that it can possibly be used for the living room chairs. The designer emails back with “sure.” The client is a bit surprised. Usually she’s so receptive and cheerful in their interactions, why the sudden change? Should she have not asked that? Did she make her mad? She wonders if she’s over stepping boundaries by sharing the fabric she likes. She creates an entire narrative in her head about her being irked from the request. Is that the reality though? Is her designer actually mad, or did the client just worry it into reality?
The reality is in fact that it was just a case of the designer not writing like she talks. In the favor of convenience and time, and a growing cultural leaning toward informality, she simply wrote “sure.” What she meant though was, “Sure, that’s no problem. I’ll get back to you in a few days to let you know if we’ve been able to find it!”
The designer thought that that was implied and understood with the quick and simple “sure,” but the client didn’t get the message. The client thought the designer was irritated. It was a simple miscommunication, made even more confusing by the fact that the designer’s client is twenty years her senior. Oops.
Always Make a Connection, Even When You Write
How could it have all been avoided though? What could have the designer done to avoid the miscommunication, and what can you do to avoid the same? Well, by simply taking what you would say to a client in person, and writing it down. By just allowing yourself to be fully be you, in the written word.
Here’s what that looks like. First, start lengthening your responses just a bit if you’re usually a one or two word replier. Super short answers are easily interpreted as being negative. Second, use punctuation, including exclamation points and question marks. Now don’t go hog wild with question marks and exclamation points of course as you want to maintain an air of professionalism, but do spice things up a bit. You just want to make sure you’re properly sharing your excitement, your concern, your everything with a client, and that it’s being clearly conveyed no matter how you’re communicating.
As, well, it’s hard to connect with “sure.” It’s much easier to connect with, “Sure! That material is just beautiful. I’ll email you on Tuesday to let you know what we’ve found.” See how different that sounds and feels? And it only took a few extra words and a few different means of punctuation.
“Sure” sounds like a reluctant and begrudging reply. “Sure! That material is just beautiful. I’ll email you on Tuesday to let you know what we’ve found.” however sounds like you’re more than happy to do so. Now if you’re not happy about it, that’s another story. But if you’re more than happy to look and that’s the kind of business situation you’ve set up for yourselves, then let your client know that you’re happy to fulfill a request.
You don’t want them questioning a situation when there’s nothing to question. No, instead you want to write, punctuate, express, and exclaim almost exactly as you would speak to them. If you’re happy or excited, show it through wording and punctuation. If you’re concerned or confused, then use question marks and a few more words to explain yourself. That way they experience one person, all of the time, no matter how you’re communicating with one another.
Make it Easy on Yourself, & Your Client
Let’s be honest, creating and maintaining a relationship with clients can be hard enough. The last thing that you want to be doing is making it even harder on yourself by making simple writing mistakes, especially when they can be so easily remedied. Instead, simply remember to be yourself.
Be who you are on paper, online, on Zoom, on everything. Just be the amazing person that you are, all of the time, no matter what mode of communication you’re using. And don’t worry about the extra time that it takes to put a little bit more “you” into everything that you write, you’ll end up saving oodles of time later when you’re not re-explaining or rectifying something that accidentally happened when using the written word. And that my friend, is worth everything.