Whether you are working with customers internally or externally, the way you and your people build trust and relationships is critical to being successful in delivering business objectives.
Trust can be built in a number of ways and importantly this happens in the way we build rapport, how we relate to one another, and ultimately how we connect human to human.
Do your people have the communication skills to connect well with their internal and external customers?
How do you build this trust and maintain good relationships? Being an effective communicator is a key part of this, and here are the key ways to adapt your communication approach to be successful in your goals.
Why adapt your communication style
Every client or customer you work with is different, so know your audience and think about what motivates and interests them, and what they need. For example, in the MiND profile model which uses a neuroscience approach to communication, there are 4 key styles of communication:
- Reasoning profiles tend to be rational, practical and analytical, and want to see facts, data and executive summaries.
- Feeling profiles are usually empathetic, want to take time to connect with their people, and are sensitive to your clients’ needs. They prioritise team harmony and collaboration.
- Spontaneous profiles like to work in a creative way, are strategic and ‘big picture’ thinkers, who prefer to work on new ideas, the vision and the future.
- Specific profiles are typically precise, detailed and highly organised. They want to work with detailed information, processes and enjoy completing projects.
Plan your communication approach
Based on the insights from exploring your audience, plan your communication style. Will you be formal or informal? Express your views in a direct or indirect way? Come across as professional and polite, or friendly and relaxed? Understanding cultural differences may be helpful for global teams to ensure you adjust your communication and behaviours to interact in a way which connects, so use cultural values to see what may be different from your own cultural approach in the way you interact and communicate. There can be differences in expected communication and what builds trust and relationships, even within companies and between departments that have their own specific team cultures.
Communication is more than just speaking
Communication is a 2-way process and involves listening effectively, as well as speaking. So demonstrate your empathy by taking time to listen well, ask open questions, and reflect back your understanding to show active listening.
When meeting clients, plan and know how to communicate clearly your key messages, and know how you will answer their questions. Keep it simple and focus on your communication goal for that meeting, why what you’re sharing matters to them, the most important point and what they need to do next.
Looking for something else? Questions?
Tone of voice and verbal communication
The way you communicate with your voice is a key way to build trust. You can adapt your pace, intonation and volume of speaking, as well as the warmth and expressiveness of your voice, plus how frequently you pause. Listen to your customer, and match their verbal communication to make a better connection.
Body language and non-verbal communication
Observe your clients and pitch your body language at the same level, reflecting key actions or movements, without mirroring too closely, which can feel unnatural and like you’re mimicking. Pay attention to key elements, including how they sit or stand, facial expressions and how much they smile, the amount and intensity of eye contact, plus the frequency and style of hand gestures. Remember that the ‘volume’ of body language can be driven by cultural values as well, so adjust yours to be at the same level as your customers.
Time and space for connection
If possible make regular time to meet face to face, as well as virtually to further build rapport and develop your trust and relationship. Virtual collaboration tools and meeting platforms are invaluable to allow us to work with others around the world, and when we meet face to face, this allows you to concentrate more on personal conversations, quality small talk to get to know each other more deeply, and conversations which connect and demonstrate your care. It can also be a helpful space to have difficult conversations, which might create conflict, rather than relying on the usual communication channels. If face to face meetings are not possible, consider creative ways to design conversation spaces which disrupt your usual communication channels and help everyone to commit to listen and share in a more personal way.
How can Culture Cuppa improve your team’s communication skills with their customers?
We offer communication skills coaching and team training to support you and your team to build rapport and trust with internal and external customers.