I Am Talking, Don’t You Hear Me?

I Am Talking, Don't You Hear Me?

There is nothing worse than spending time communicating with someone and then you find out they were not listening.

After spending time, valuable time, putting together thoughts, sharing it in an email or via a live conversation, the response clearly demonstrates the other party was NOT paying attention at all.

What do you do next?

Take responsibility.

  • There is possibly a few steps that may have needed to take place in advance to help ensure effective communication is in place AND working.
  • There is a possibility that this is not be a good match.
  • There is a possibility that your communication was missing something.
  • There is a possibility that some things will never make sense.
  • There is a possibility the other party is a boo boo head and no amount of communication will ever make a difference.  You are responsible for not recognizing that a long time ago yet you keep trying.  Let go, bye, bye.

It takes two to make ANY relationship work. It does not matter if its personal, business, friendship or love, each person has a responsibility in the relationship.

Of course you have to want it to work and be willing to put in the effort.

Creating time to learn the others style and thought process will aid in the development of the relationship and enhance communication.

It is especially critical when building business relationships.

Business relationships may be a bit more difficult if there are partnerships and teams…but there will always be one that takes the lead and that is the main person to focus on.  Once you have mastered the style of that lead person, clear communication can take place.

Now, let’s nurture the relationship and communicate our asses off!

Listening is a talent.

Many of us are just not good listeners.  In today’s technological environment, someone is trying to talk to us all the time.

Sometimes it is too difficult to actively listen.

Think about it:

  • We are building relationships on at least 2 or 3 social networks if not more.
  • Emails are coming in like crazy because we are always signing up for information we think will help us grow or teach us something.
  • Our favorite, valuable bloggers are posting great stuff everyday, gotta find time to read a few of those.
  • Our clients are juggling for time with us on top of the projects we are completing for them.
  • We are trying to stay relevant so we are continually educating ourselves and signing up for webinars and courses.
  • Then there’s all those personal items we are trying to handle which can include spouses, mates, children, friends, hobby or just cooking a meal.
  • Did I mention that somewhere in there we have to find time to clean up, organize, and have fun.

Then, you send an email communicating one more thing and quite possibly it landed at the wrong time.

It may have arrived when I was not in the mood (too much is going on), so it gets set aside. I am not actively listening.

If all those things mentioned earlier weren’t happening, I may have been able to actively listen to what you had to say. How would you get my attention?

Sometimes there is nothing you can do but wait, give the other side time to digest the information, and respond…we just might be busy with a few more things that have more priority.

Listening begins with self-awareness; accountability of understanding our own personal style and the style of those we are communicating with.

  • What’s the best method to communicate with a new client for example?
  • What’s the best method for one to communicate with you?

I tend to intentionally “over communicate” with new clients, probably in an attempt to over-deliver as well, but I will check in a week or so after we start to ensure my style is not overwhelming.  If so, what would be a better approach?

Yes, I ask prior to working with the client what is the preferred method of communication, well honestly –  most of the time, sometimes I may get caught up in the complexity of work, but it is always good to check in and request feedback after working together has begun.

Be proactive.

Some of us suck at communicating.  We don’t think so because in our minds we are putting an effort in it

At times people are so stuck on what THEY have to say they don’t listen to what is being told TO them.  It does not matter what method is utilized to communicate, when one is not paying attention, one is not listening.

Suggestion:  Ask if the person has the time now, or soon.  If you need an answer in less than 24 hours, send me an email, text message, live call, or online chat and find out if this is a good time to talk about an issue. Utilize the communication method we already agreed upon.

My style will tell you to call me or text me. When a client reallllly wants to talk they always call don’t they?

How many times has someone assumed you have time to talk about their issue, or situation, they call and jump in?

Set Boundaries

Hopefully boundaries are set.  If not, it’s time to set some.

I had a client that I did not set clear boundaries with and she would call me all the time, any day. I eventually resented it and it showed up in my voice at times.

I did not even recognize it until a roommate pointed it out.

We had been working together for about 4 years by then. I worked very hard at correcting that and I tried to set boundaries.

I stopped being so responsive in the evenings and weekends.  She always left a message anyway and often called back 10 minutes later to make sure I received the first message.

I tried very hard to be patient, supportive and listen.  Of course a person like that is all over the place and to work with that style, you have to be patient at all times.

Your patience, will reduce your stress and help the communication between the two of you.

She appreciated my responsiveness for the most part, but she also took it for granted.  My resentment came back.

After seven years, she called me one day and said we were not on the same page and it was time to part ways.  As much as I did not want to lose the consistent income, in the long run I was less stressed.

I learned a valuable lesson that boundaries were important and need to be established in the beginning.  Especially when you discover that your new client is over-active.

I knew before she became my client that she was going to be a little intense, and for 98% of our time we worked just fine.  I should have communicated my boundaries and stuck to them.

We Have Choices

There is always an opportunity of choice. We choose to continue working with clients that may not fit and probably because of the additional income.

If it is about money, all money is not good money and often not worth it.

What we put out we get back. Take responsibility for the role you play and take a cold hard look at what you created.

As hard as I know this is, sometimes we just have to let go.

We have to believe that what is good for us should not feel or be like this.

When you know that you have done all you can, communicated to the best of your ability and provided the best service or product possible…it just may be time to say bye.

Learn the Language

When you order a carbonated drink, do you say “pop” or soda?

What if I ordered a  “red pop”?  Would you know that is a strawberry soda?

The point is, we all communicate differently depending on our environments.

Our surroundings play a major role in our communication styles.

A few more points to consider:

  • What is most important, priorities?
  • Solidify what each will be responsible for.
  • What processes do we need so that we complement one another?
  • What are we gaining by merging our lives together?
  • What steps can we take to completely merge, grow our families – our team?

As we continue to grow, it’s key to check in and determine if the relationship is working.  Don’t wait for a storm to hit and then wonder wha’ happened!

Be willing to devote time and effort into the relationship, it will take time.  Are you willing to invest in it?

This post is part of the monthly Word Carnival where we discuss this months topic is about “Can You Hear Me Now? Make sure you and your customers speak the same language”.  Make sure to check out the posts here from the other carnies who are very clever bloggers/business owners as they share their thoughts as well.

  • http://getpaidtowriteonline.com/ Sharon Hurley Hall

    Great lessons, Michelle. I’ve actually incorporated some of this into my client questionnaire. I ask about their preferred communication method and how often they want updates. I also confirm what we’ve agreed and then put tasks in my diary so I can meet their communication expectations. Of course, I also state what I expect from them so clients know that any delay on their part messes up the schedule (though of course, I do what I can to keep things on track).

    • http://virtuallydistinguished.com Michelle Church

      As I said before I love the questionnaire…I gotta get that together. THANKS again Sharon!

  • http://www.WTFMarketing.com/ Nick Armstrong

    Creating boundaries is a really important part of any new client on boarding process. In my contract, I clearly outline what times and days I am available, which days I am available for in-person meetings (usually only Mondays), and how I prefer to be contacted.

    Before becoming very good at setting those expectations, my personal time was overrun completely by clients requesting meetings. I had a similar situation with the phone, wherein I would spend an inordinate amount of time allowing my brain to be picked clean. It was so draining, that very little of the good ideas that we come up with on the phone would ever translate into a client project deliverable.

    Only by almost entirely eliminating the phone from my communications lexicon, communicating mostly in person or you e-mail, and reserving SMS-based communications for emergencies, and by eliminating meetings to only one or two days out of the week, did I’ve her gain enough of my own time to actually do the work I was being hired to do (at least, within normal business hours).

    You are absolutely right when you say that building a client relationship IS just like a relationship of any other sort. I’ve had clients who I’ve treated like family, both the kind you want to have at the Thanksgiving dinner table, and the kind you want to ignore. In the end though, my setting the proper expectations and boundaries up front was THE thing that determined the overall success or failure of the project itself.

    Good on you for pointing it out! :-)

    • http://virtuallydistinguished.com Michelle Church

      Thanks Nick, I am grateful I have really had some great clients. Only one got snippy with me, but I just think that is his nature…and as much as he does not like email, I still use it so that we are clear on what’s going on and I have it to refer back to him as he is the type that needs proof. I appreciate your comments and thanks for being the spark of this topic!

  • http://www.thenumberswhisperer.com/ Nicole Fende

    Great points Michelle. A few of my favorite takeaways. 1. Listening is a talent. Yes! Especially as an extrovert I have to work at listening. For me the trick is to take notes. Written, typed, doesn’t matter. The act of taking notes forces me to hear, understand and summarize what the other person is saying.

    2. I had not thought about just asking how my clients would like me to communicate. In my eCourses I offer the written, audio and video. However on the consulting side I’ve just realized certain assumptions I’ve been making. (EEK!)

    3. Setting boundaries is crucial. It’s easy to become a sounding board / general biz therapist if you’re not careful.

    • http://virtuallydistinguished.com Michelle Church

      Thanks Nicole, I learned to asked because I love email and as I said I know I over communicate at times and can tell that people are overwhelmed. The client I spoke about that I did not have boundaries with, she also was technologically challenged so communicating with her via email was impossible (she hired me to manage her email everyday) so I really had to be creative with her, but I knew that if it was something I needed her to know right away, call. I too have to take notes and you are right it does help me to listen better, but I have to admit, I do it mostly to remember…I tend to run 100 miles an hour in my head so it’s theraphy for me to slow down!

  • http://ashleywelton.com/ Ashley Welton

    You made a great point and letting things (communications) marinate a bit. In our world of instant everything, I think it’s hard to wait a minute for a response or, on the flip side, not respond immediately. Unless you’re bleeding out, there’s no real emergency. Take a breath and let it go. Great tips!

    • http://virtuallydistinguished.com Michelle Church

      Thanks Ashley…I still work at marinating as I can be a bit passionate and responsive vs. waiting, but I as my age marinates….I have learned more patience, but I still have my moment with personal relationships!

  • Carol Lynn Rivera

    Ok, first… “boo boo head” is possibly my new favorite phrase. I have to find at least one way to work that into a conversation today.

    You made some excellent points here. I learned to always ask someone if they have time now… or later… and not just call and launch into whatever it is that “I” want to say. If you don’t ask, you don’t know if they’re in the middle of something and not really paying attention to you, then before you know it things slip through the cracks because you think you already said something but they were too busy to listen!

    I also love the idea of setting boundaries. I’m bad at that. I tend to try to accommodate whatever, whenever, then to your point, I start to feel resentful about it. But really, it’s my fault. And it’s almost impossible to start drawing lines unless you do it immediately and before the relationship even begins.

    And YES… learn to let go. I guess it’s part of my recovering perfectionism, but I always want everything to be… um, perfect. I want people to be happy with every little detail. all. the. time. And sometimes they aren’t. And sometimes the whole relationship isn’t. And you have to know what’s going to be good for you and them, not just keep going blindly.

    Great takeaways here and lots to hang your hat on!

    • http://virtuallydistinguished.com Michelle Church

      Thanks Carol…I have been much better about setting boundaries, BUT I too am like you I work very hard at being responsive…truly my years at the phone company on staff did that to me. Most people that know me, know that I respond so they rarely question if I saw an email, they just know. That too, can be a bit overwhelming as it creates expectations and there are days I want to walk away from it, but hell I have it popping up on my phone, my ipad and I know when I receive most emails right away. Letting go is very, very difficult to do when there is some pain attached, I still work very hard at that. THANK YOU!

  • http://pajamaproductivity.com Annie Sisk

    Michelle! I LOVE the new look on the site – dang, it’s been awhile since I’ve been here and it looks AWESOME. Love your suggestions – and like Carol Lynn, “boo boo head” is my new favorite phrase!

    • http://virtuallydistinguished.com Michelle Church

      I so value your thoughts and opinion greatly….THANKS MUCHO Annie!