Some may recall the famous line from the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke, “What we have here is a failure to communicate.” Failing to communicate can be a game changer in dealing with clients. In fact, it may be the reason some clients seek another massage therapy provider, even though your service is of the highest caliber. That’s why honing your communication skills is as important as continuing to improve your expertise as a massage therapist.
Greet massage therapy clients
Effective communication begins when clients walk through the door. If clients book online, communication starts when they check in at reception at the designated hour. A new client may be apprehensive, especially if this is their first massage. You’ll want to immediately put them at ease with a warm greeting.
Next comes the intake session that is give and take. The goal of the intake session is to find out what pain or discomfort a client is experiencing and what are their treatment goals. In addition to talking, you’ll want to look for nonverbal communication cues from clients to make sure you uncover any concerns or apprehension about the session that they feel uncomfortable discussing. As an example, some clients may be uncomfortable about disrobing but are too embarrassed to raise the issue. Look for the nonverbal cues and you’ll see the discomfort on their face or in their body language. Discuss draping and find out if there are parts of their body, in particular, they prefer you don’t touch and others that they want you to focus on.
Intake should focus on a client’s:
Area of pain
General health to determine what might be underlying an issue
Mental state if stress is the reason for the treatment
Current actions to address pain or stress/anxiety
Occupation, which will have an impact on how much a client sits or stands, for example
Previous experience with massage
First time clients also may wonder how much they should communicate during the session or if they should assist you in any way in terms of moving or lifting parts of their body. Don’t wait for them to raise these issues; address them during the intake session.
Effective communication continues during the massage
Verbal communication should continue during the massage, along with constantly watching for non-verbal cues. Check in with clients during the massage to make that the pressure you are applying is comfortable. Don’t wait for a client to tell you if something is bothering them. Be proactive and check in with them.
Similarly, a client’s physical comfort is paramount. This can be affected by room temperature, music – too loud or too soft- and table comfort. While a client may prefer a quiet, non-verbal massage therapy experience, ask questions to ensure the experience is positive and that nothing is impacting it in a negative way.
Conducting the exit interview
Before the client leaves, conduct an exit interview. You’ll want to find out if the massage met a client’s expectations in terms of relieving pain or reducing stress. You also will find out what about the massage the client liked and if there were some aspects that could have been handled differently or better. The goal is to provide an experience that is seamless and addresses a client’s specific needs. Asking questions is how to find out if the client had a satisfying experience.
The exit interview also provides an opportunity to provide the client with self-help tips so that they can extend the benefits of the treatment at home or deal with a chronic pain issue.
Communication builds trust and strengthens relationships. When you ask questions, provide information and convey that you care, clients know that you have their best interests at heart. That keeps them coming back.