As I've said many times, I really enjoy attending the industry trade shows, even in this blog. Apart from the obvious goal to showcase our products, trade shows provide me with a great opportunity to talk to you about your business, your concerns, and how you see the market evolving.
Over the years, by talking with so many of you, I've come to appreciate what it takes to work in a profession that, by its very nature, is highly sensitive and intimate. It goes without saying you need to be a good business person and a capable practitioner to succeed. But because of the true hands-on nature of your work, you need to possess -- or cultivate -- a set of social and emotional characteristics that enable you to build trust with your clients and create a comfortable and relaxing environment.
Many of you have told me that it took you time to hone the interpersonal skills that made you feel completely comfortable with your clients -- and they with you -- even though you had absolute confidence in your skills.
Why the Client Interview is so Important
Good communication is a major key to success, is not surprising, and it starts right at the initial interview. During this information gathering session, you get to know clients' physical condition and their emotional and mental state to help you suggest the right treatments and protocols.
Client speaking with a massage therapist before the session. But even more than that, it's here in that initial interview that a trusted relationship begins. In addition to learning about clients' physical needs, you also find out your clients' attitude about self-care, and most importantly, understand their feelings of vulnerability about touch, should they have them. The initial interview is twice as important if someone has never had a massage, someone pointed out.
Listen and Observe
It sounds pretty obvious, but the fact is there is a huge difference between hearing and listening. One professional told me that she's also looking beyond her client's words while she's asking questions. She listens to the tone of her client's voice and observes body language and facial expressions to understand what her client is REALLY saying. The more you understand what your client is telling you in spoken unspoken ways, the greater the opportunity to build trust.
I like to believe that anyone involved in healing has empathy but showing it can be difficult for anyone. Maybe we take it for granted clients -- and anyone in our lives who we care about -- knows that we "feel their pain." But sometimes, we forget that we need to communicate our compassion and empathy. Not everything can be read between the lines.
Of course, understanding yourself and learning how to build trust with your clients is not unique to bodywork professionals. But the more you know yourself and, in turn, connect with your clients, the greater the likelihood they will continue to rely on you year after year, not to mention, the more meaning you'll get out of your work.