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“Can you hear me now?” Verizon posed that question about mobile networks in its popular advertising campaign that ran for nine years starting in 2002. While mobile technology has improved considerably since then – though networks still experience outages – we may still need to work on our listening skills. Effective communication, which starts with listening regardless whether or not you use technology to communicate, is not only important when it comes to personal relationships; it’s absolutely critical for the success of your spa or massage practice.

Can you imagine what would happen if you failed to listen carefully to clients describe their skin allergies and you ended up using a massage lubricant that contained ingredients that caused a reaction? Failure to listen can result in not addressing a client’s therapeutic massage needs, overbooking clients, recommending the wrong retail product for at home use and more.

Bottom line, without listening carefully or effectively, communication breaks down. Messages are misunderstood and a client becomes annoyed and frustrated and may decide to take business elsewhere. To become a better listener, here are some things to put into practice:

Pay attention:  Turn off your mind to anything else that might keep you from giving the other person your undivided attention.  Face the speaker and maintain eye contact throughout the conversation.

Show you are listening: Occasionally smile and nod to let the other party know that you are paying attention to what they are saying. These gestures can also encourage the other speaker to open up if they are reticent.

Avoid distractions: Turn off your mobile phone or close the door to your office, for example, so there are no disruptions or distractions.  You want to give the other person your undivided attention.

Watch for non-verbal cues: We all give non-verbal cues with our facial expressions, gestures and body language.  At times, someone’s body language will conflict with their words. As an example, a person may be saying “yes” but by looking down or turning their head; they convey doubt or a lack of commitment. Pay attention to what isn’t being said.

Clarify what you hear: Be sure that you understand what the speaker is trying to convey. Don’t make assumptions. To do this, you may need to ask open-ended questions. Ask what the other person has in mind or ask them to clarify their statement. You don’t want to formulate a response until you are certain you understand what the other person is telling you.  

Keep an open mind: Wait until you hear out the other person completely before you make a decision and reply.

Don’t get defensive: If someone is complaining about something that happened at your spa or massage practice, hear them out. You want to hear everything they have to say to ensure you give a satisfying response.

Good communication is at the heart of any business. Generally it starts by listening to each other.