A Professional Paradox
Whilst living in a rural town called ‘Paradise’, I have discovered many eccentric qualities in its social fabric influencing our business dreams. Of particular interest is the paradox of being approachable, authentic people whilst concurrently being valued for our unique skills and knowledge, with respect and recognition.
Recently there have been two separate ventures by lawyers and doctors to highlight this paradox by presenting their human nature through photographs taken on their days off thus aiming to tackle these impediment attitudes. Exhibited in galleries, the response was overwhelmingly positive (especially following the ‘Doc’s Day Off’ display in Cairns). Next year our local Allied Health Network will be creating their own provocative photographic collection representing Allied Health on Holidays!
When clients enquire about my services, I have a verbal script discussing their concerns in detail and how I may begin to assist them to manage these before we approach the topic of financial reimbursement. This strategy helps them feel that I am solely and genuinely interested in them as a person.
Following this when I approach the topic of finance, occasionally they openly freak-out at the thought of paying for my services, they say, “after all, you are only a Speech Therapist!” It is this condescending response which irritates me and my non-verbal retort is usually, “now if I was a Doctor you wouldn’t say that!” Others however, have a more heart-warming and positive attitude with comments such as, “well you are the expert in this area and I need you so whatever it costs!”
Being a mobile consultant I visit my clients in their homes or workplaces with the dual intent, providing them with convenience and to achieve the best outcomes stimulated by the natural and comfortable environment. These situations enable the client to be relaxed and open which also has a similar and reciprocal effect upon myself. Thus we get to know each other at a deeper level than if we are just working in a sterile four walled clinic room in a medical centre.
As we converse we often share personal life stories which reflects the essence of a natural two way conversational exchange. My hope is that this insight into my life preserves or even deepens their respect for me as a professional.
Being in the business arena of developing effective vocal skills to public speaking, marketing and networking performances, I sit on both sides of the fence which increases my authenticity as a person and a skilled professional. An example of my approach, is to suggest to my clients that they attend one of my public speaking events such as a Vocal Boot Camp followed by shadowing me at a Networking Event to see how I prepare and control my voice, market myself and network the room. This gives them clear ideas of my skill-set. From this they can then choose to imitate, adopt and integrate these skills into their next networking event.
Despite being spotted without my mascara on at our Sunday morning markets, in my shorts & singlet, my local reputation has been maintained. I’m still respected by both my business colleagues and friends who frequently approach me for assistance with their business voice skills (in contrast to Jesus who wasn’t popular with his neighbours and friends in the town in which he lived!).
Take Home points:
- Explore fresh ways of being client-centric each and every day.
- Remember that it’s OK to be real with your clients as they will appreciate your authenticity. Just be very careful of how much you share with them for example, ensure that your personal anecdotes will have a direct impact upon their goals and achievements.
- Set clear boundaries around your interaction with your clients. E.g. allow them to like your professional social media pages but please don’t befriend them on your personal pages!
- Refrain from responding to their after hours phone calls, emails or texts as this sets a risky precedent including infringing upon your personal space.
- Check in with your clients regularly to gauge their satisfaction with your service from both a quality and fiscal perspective.
- Go shopping in disguise!
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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