Thursday, October 04, 2012

stop, drop, and listen

It’s probably a bad idea to write while watching the presidential debates, but since I can’t seem to turn off the TV—and since I really need to write this piece (post #4 of the UBC—I’m determined to stay on track!) I’m going to attempt it, anyway.

I won’t air any political views here. But I will note a couple observations about the debates: moderator Jim Lehrer doesn’t seem to have much control over the two candidates. The author of this article I came across describes how he expects Lehrer will control the audience, but he didn’t say anything about keeping the candidates on track.

Lehrer is trying to get the candidates to stick to the time limit—but he’s not having much luck. In fact, after Lehrer gave President Obama a 30-second warning, Obama took additional time to inform Lehrer that he had just used up 5 seconds of the allotted response time, complete a grin and a wink to show his tossback was all in good humor. They didn’t pan to Lehrer at that point, but I’m guessing he wasn’t smiling back.

A second observation is that neither candidate seems to really listen to one another. Well, they sort of listen (there’s a lot of head shaking and semi-nodding indicating their disagreement or agreement to their opponent’s comments), but I don’t think they’re truly listening. Much of the time, they seem so closed off to what the other is saying that they aren’t even really hearing what’s being said.

So these observations have me thinking: would you treat your clients this way?

Of course not! At least, not if you expect to continue to do business with them.

As a freelancer—that is, a contract employee—I’m all too aware that one inconsiderate move could mean the end of my relationship with any of my clients. They are under no obligation to keep me on board for future projects, so I do my best to work with them as amicably as possible during the process. I look at it this way: my job is to make their job easier. So I certainly don't try to control them--and I make a point to listen to what they're telling me. 

I ask a lot of questions when I’m trying to learn about my clients. I want to know all about their business, their focus, and the details of the work they expect me to do for them. Who are they? How did they get to where they are today? Why did they start their business? Who is exactly their audience? How old is this audience? Are they mostly male or female? What will make them buy into the product or service? The list goes on, and on, and on…

If I didn’t listen to what my clients told me, I’d fail to land subsequent projects. And word-of-mouth travels quickly (especially when someone has something negative to say), so I clean out my ears, have some caffeine (to help me focus, of course!), and listen to what they tell me. And together we tell their story. 

1 comment:

Maryann Matas said...

It's so important to connect with your clients. What I want to convey most is that I care about them.

Great post!

Maryann Matas