Picture this: you’ve just spent the last 3 1/2 hours perfecting a client’s cut and color. You’ve matched the inspiration photo almost exactly and the finishing blowout is perfection. You hand her the mirror to see the finished product for herself and there it is…
- the furrowed brow,
- the tight lipped “almost-frown”,
- She’s not happy.
Check Your Ego.Being a professional creative is really tough, vulnerable work. The very act of creating means that you are taking a small piece you yourself—your talent—and using it to put something new into the work. If someone has a negative reaction to that work, it can be really demoralizing. The first and most important step in client conflict resolution is to take a deep breath and remind yourself that the complaint is NOT personal. One person’s reaction to your work is not an accurate reflection of your talent or skill level. Your client’s reaction to the finished look that you created shows you the disconnect between what they were picturing and what you envisioned. That’s all. There could be a million different reasons why this disconnect occurred, and the only way to get to the bottom of it is to stay open-minded and curious.
Listen to Your Unhappy Client.Not taking a complaint personally, and dropping the impulse to get immediately defensive opens us up to being able to really listen. When we are able to listen, we can ask constructive questions and usually find solutions to problems much quicker. Chances are, your client is just as nervous to speak up about a negative reaction as you are to hear about it. Listening actively will put them at ease and foster a stronger relationship between you.
Tips for Active Listening:
- Position yourself at your client’s level. If they are standing, stand, if they are seated, pull up a chair. You want to be able to look them in the eyes when they are speaking to you.
- Be mindful of your body language. Leaning back and/or crossing your arms indicates defensiveness. Try to remain relaxed. If you feel comfortable, put a hand on your client’s hand, arm, or shoulder.
- Resist the urge to think of a response while your client is talking. Keep your attention on their facial expressions, body language, and words.