One thing to remember is that we're always communicating, every minute of every hour even when we think we aren't. Only 7% of our communication comes through our words. 55% of everything we're communicating comes through our body language, and 38% through the tone of our voice.
[Chart source: https://www.businesstopia.net/communication/verbal-vs-non-verbal-communication]
Has it ever happened to you that a message you were trying to convey wasn't received the way you originally meant it? It's very common, and most often it doesn't happen because people don't want to understand. Every person has a collection of communication tools based on individual preferences. These can include vocabulary, the way people speak, the tone they use, and so on.
#1. Set a communication goalThink about what you'd like to achieve with each of your clients when talking to them. You can review this session by session based on how your client is that day and pivot when necessary. Do they need to become more confident? Do they need clear instructions on how to perform? Are you trying to get to know them better? Is the goal to build trust? There can be multiple goals and purposes to a conversation, understand what those are and ensure you use body language, tone and words that will align with that goal.
#2. Adapt your communication for each individualLook for mutual interests to create a rapport first and bring out more of their real personality. Once you know what they like, adapt to suit their needs.
#3. Get feedbackYou'd want to make sure your client understands what you said before moving onto the next topic. Asking feedback questions like "does that make sense?" or "Did I explain it clearly?" and similar will prompt a non-verbal reaction at least, watch out for those cues to understand if they understand. If they don't, keep changing the way you talk about that topic until they get it. The best way to build trust, respect and rapport are to show them you care about them by not letting them feel they are inadequate.
#4. ListenWe'll dig deeper into empathy and compassion in the next article. Listening is one of the skills you need to master to express your capacity and understanding of what your client is feeling at a particular moment. Listening to your clients makes them feel valued and gives you the information you need to help them.
#5. Control your emotionsShowing your clients that you are vulnerable will create sympathy and will help them understand you are human too. Showing too many emotions or letting your feelings control what happens in a session can become an extra burden for them in the hour when they are meant to be able to let go of everything in their life and focus on themselves.
It's great to build a personal relationship and let them in on your life, but ensure you focus on their struggles, wins and progress, not yours.