Want to improve your conversation skills with clients? Follow this advice from a master conversationalist and you’ll be well on your way.
Let’s face it: Some of us are born with the gift of gab. For others, it’s a constant struggle to keep the conversation flowing from one consultation to the next. If you’ve ever stumbled while trying to build a solid rapport with a first-time client, or you’re uncertain whether she even wants to chat in the first place, don’t fret. Leil Lowndes, New York Times best-selling author of How to Talk To Anyone, says that mastering the art of conversation isn’t hard, it’s just a matter of practice. Below, she offers a few tips on how to engage salon guests during their visit and make them feel appreciated—and eager to return.
Take Notes: If you’re taking time to record your client’s color formula, Lowndes suggests jotting down a few extra notes to use as a conversation starter the next time she returns to your chair. “If you discuss an upcoming wedding or party your client is attending, by jotting down a few notes about your conversation after she leaves, you can pick up where you left off,” explains Lowndes. “Everyone likes to be remembered.”
Be a Word Detective: One surefire way to have a successful conversation with your client is by truly listening to her. “I call it being a word detective,” Lowndes says. “When your client is talking, pay attention to the words that she chooses. If she starts telling you that there’s been so much rain lately that she can’t get her dog to go out, by focusing on the word ‘dog,’ now you can ask an open-ended question, like what type of breed she owns. That will open the conversation and you can move forward from there.”
Think Visually as You Listen: “Whatever your client is saying, turn it into a movie in your mind,” Lowndes recommends. “If she’s talking about her new house, imagine you’re walking through the rooms, and you’ll really get a ‘picture’ of what she’s talking about. Suddenly this will open up an entirely new set of questions for you to ask.”
Own the Emotion: Lowndes says that while any conversation can run the risk of veering into intimate waters, it’s possible to redirect the subject matter by doing what psychologists do: acknowledging the emotion your client is feeling. “You can always pick up on the emotion she is conveying and say something like, ‘That must have been awful,’ or ‘That must have made you really happy,’” Lowndes points out. “By commenting on her emotion and not the specifics of the conversation, you’re keeping yourself engaged but you’re not getting too involved.”
Silence is Okay Too: While some stylists may be uneasy with prolonged silence, this may be exactly what your guest is craving. “It’s important to pay attention to your client’s body language,” explains Lowndes. “If she is looking at a magazine or is focused on her phone, it’s usually pretty obvious that she’d rather just sit and read or work uninterrupted.” Still unsure? Lowndes suggests asking a question about the materials she has brought to see if she’s looking to chat or would prefer to quietly enjoy her service. “Once you get used to whether or not a client is a talker, accept it,” she declares.
– by Marla Deborah Camins
[Image: Getty Images]