5 Ways To Listen To Your Clients And Build Their Trust
How many times have you been in a conversation with someone and felt like they just weren’t listening to you? It gave you that disappointing feeling that they didn’t care about you at all, right?
The other day I had to make a phone call about something important to me. It was a call I didn’t want to make. It was going to take some time, and I was already tired after working all day.
But I needed to make an informed decision that would help save me and my family quite a bit of money. So I picked up my phone and called this company to see if I could get some questions answered and figure out what my best options moving forward were.
It was a… challenging experience. Throughout the call, the representative talked over me. At one point, as I was attempting to say what my concerns were and why I was calling, she started talking to another coworker!
Needless to say, I got off that call feeling very frustrated and unfulfilled. I felt like I had wasted my time, and I was no closer to a solution than when I had called. I felt unheard in my concerns.
All the lady was looking to do was make a sale, not actually listen to my roadblocks and help me with a solution.
Thank goodness it wasn’t a coaching session!
I’m sure all of us have had some experience like that though, where you’ve felt unheard, even disrespected. Like the person talking cared way more for themselves than anything about you.
As a coach, I know that’s the last thing you want your clients to feel. They are coming to you in a particularly vulnerable place. They’re at the point where they know they need help. Some are even desperate for that help. They have a lot of trauma and hurt they’re dealing with. And they need someone who will actually listen to them.
THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF HEALTH COACHING
Your job as your client’s coach is to help them get their health and life back on track so they are thriving. Part of coaching them is knowing what information to give them and what plan you should customize for them.
But a big part of coaching – arguably the most important part – is actually listening to them and making them feel like they’re being heard.
Because if you don’t listen to your client right from the start, you’ll never actually hear what they really need.
If you go off what you think they need, what you assume they need, you’ll never get to the heart of what your client’s issues actually are.
You see, listening to someone helps build trust. If they know you’ve listened to them, if they feel heard, they will know you’re looking after their best interest – not some cookie-cutter plan you can just toss at them and be done with.
They will feel respected and cared for. Which in turn will make them trust you more. So when you ask them to do the hard things to help them heal, they will know you’re only asking them to do what’s good for them.
They will be motivated to show up to all their sessions and apply what you’re coaching them in. Then they will start to see results. Their lives will start turning around. And they will trust you even more.
It’s an incredible cycle just listening starts.
So how do you actually listen to your clients and make sure they feel heard?
5 WAYS TO LISTEN TO YOUR CLIENTS AND BUILD THEIR TRUST
I know it’s really easy to want to jump in with all the answers and start solving your clients’ problems right away. You’re excited about what you know, and you want to share that with your clients to start helping them right away. And that’s invigorating!
But sometimes our eagerness to fix everything can do the opposite. Instead of your client feeling like they’ve been heard, they feel like they got a bunch of ideas handed to them.
Don’t worry though! I have five ways to help you listen to your clients right from the start.
1. THE VERY FIRST WAY TO LISTEN TO YOUR CLIENT IS TO… LISTEN
When they’re talking to you, rather than running ahead in your mind to the next topic you want to cover, be concentrating on what they’re saying. Be fully in the moment of them.
As a side note, if you’ve taken time to prep for the session ahead of time, you won’t be stressing about what topic you need to cover next. It will be right there in your notes! That way you’re able to concentrate all your attention on what your client is saying.
2. MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH YOUR CLIENT
Eye contact is the easiest way to show your client you’re listening to them (and it’s an easy way to make you focus on them too!). If you’re looking at them, that means you aren’t looking at your phone or another computer screen or staring out the window. It’s an instant connection with your client.
3. HAVE APPROACHABLE BODY LANGUAGE
Body language is the silent communication you’re sending your client that shows you care. Sitting up straight, even leaning in a bit will show you are alert and ready to hear what they have to say. Nodding as they speak will further indicate you’re listening.
4. ASK FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONS OR USE ENCOURAGING PHRASES
I love when I’m talking to someone and they ask me follow-up questions. Because that shows they were actually listening to what I was saying and are interested in hearing more about what I think!
Questions don’t just show you’re listening; they also allow you to dig deeper as a coach so you can really know how to help them. You can ask questions directly relating to what your client is saying so they can respond further to you.
Or, to let your client speak to you directly in their own words, say phrases like, Tell me more about that. Or, What I’m hearing you say is… Then you aren’t putting words in their mouth and if you misunderstood them, they have a chance to correct this so you do understand.
5. GIVE YOUR CLIENT SPACE TO RESPOND
Sometimes questions you ask during coaching are hard to answer. They either are meant to take the client some time to think through and answer, or they are painful (but necessary) for your client to think about. So the response can take a bit.
Don’t feel like you have to fill the silence while your client searches for an answer. Rather than rushing them or trying to fill up the space with small talk, give them space to really think, It’s after those moments of silence when your client will really give you the answers you’re looking for.
Listening is an art! It’s how we show we care. It’s how we grow that deep bond between our clients and ourselves.
As you learn how to listen well, you will make yourself stand out from most of the coaches out there. You’ll develop clients who trust you, who consistently show up to their sessions, and who actively put into practice the advice you give them. In return, you’ll see your clients’ lives transformed.
What habits do you have that help you actively listen to your clients? Share them in the comments below!
For more coaching tips, check out The Dos And Don’ts Of Health Coaching!