Let’s get one thing straight, effective communication with clients may not always be the most simple or easy task. For clients, training is no simple task and as you know well, can make them frustrated and much less apt to communicate. However, maintaining an open door for communication and listening between the trainer and the client is imperative to success.
Effective communication happens in many different ways through many different mediums. By different mediums, I mean you can communicate through text, email, social media, a fitness software like FitSW, and outside of digital means – through body language.
Now, I’m sure you are already a great communicator, and if you don’t think so, then I especially urge you to keep reading. However, as people, we can always improve on our communication skills. So here is a breakdown of communication and ways to become more aware of your communication skills and how to grow them for more effective communication with clients.
Why focus on effective communication with clients?
Effective communication will help your business grow in every way possible. You will have better sales conversations and form better client relationships. With both of these aspects nailed down, you will leave little room for failure.
Some key personal influences on successful communication are making all your messages clear and distinct. The objective of your message should be easily understood by both parties.
Deliver your messages with confidence and efficacy. You have to have a clear understanding of want you want and can receive out of a conversation with a client.
Communication skills are universal, but not entirely universal. There is a multitude of different reasons why people communicate differently. Differences in communication are what add a bit of excitement to life, but they can be quite the detriment when it comes to running your personal training business. Often the biggest influences in negative communication are noise factors.
Noise happens in many ways and is essentially the variable that affects the way that the receiver will get and decode the message. When communicating with anyone, you have to take into account all the context around the conversation. Noise can have an overall negative effect on the effectiveness of your communication if you do not take into account the noise that can affect it.
Noise can interfere with a message through psychological, physiological, physical, and semantic predispositions.
- Physiological – Something that physically affects the receiver from getting the message. i.e. the client cannot hear you because they are breathing too heavily and their blood is pumping in their ears from their workout.
- Semantic – When the message you send is not clear because of mispronouncing words, poor grammar, or using the wrong words to describe something.
- Psychological – Predispositions and beliefs can prevent the receiver from getting the message you are sending.
- Physical – the sounds happening in the environment that can block the receiver from receiving the message. i.e. a loud gym setting where you have to raise your voice to communicate with the client.
- Cultural – Similar to psychological, but cultural differences in communication can cause a huge barrier to the right message being received. Body language, the meaning of words, and moral standards are different.
Psychological noise will affect most of your communication with clients. Getting help from a personal trainer often requires the client to make leaps and bounds through their psychological barriers. In turn, this can affect the way they communicate with you, the trainer. Therefore, you have to understand how to reduce psychological noise when communicating with clients.
An example of poor communication, and the effect of psychological noise that can occur between a trainer and client conversation, is the client’s mental state. Let’s say that the client was having a particularly hard day at work and shows up for their session. You, as the trainer, tell the client plainly that they have not made any progress on their weight since the last check-in. The client responds poorly and blames you for the lack of good guidance.
The client might not have responded so poorly if their mental disposition was not so drained from having a difficult day at work.
Ways to reduce noise for more effective communication with clients like this is to ask feeler questions to preface the conversation. Ask them how their day was and if they are ready to get started with their meeting/session/consultation. Based on their responses you can better understand how to construct and deliver your messages through your conversation relative to their mental state.
In response, their mental state can affect their physical and physiological state as well which could affect their workout too. Therefore, you could reduce the noise in communication as well as interferences with their overall progression.
Understanding the best way to communicate with clients begins with understanding the process of communication. Breaking down the process of communication helps you to become more analytical about the message you are trying to send. It helps you determine how it should be delivered most effectively and how it will be received by the client.
Analyzing the step-by-step process that is communication will raise your internal awareness for how you can communicate most effectively to all different types of people. Not only with your clients but just about anyone else in your life.
The sender is the person in the conversation who is preparing to share a message with the receiver. This person must think through the message they wish to send and develop it in a way that the receiver can accurately process the information they are given and respond accordingly.
Senders must construct the message and construct it with the receiver in mind for effective communication with clients. The format you construct the message for determines the encoding. It’s constructed in relation to the receiver and the way that the receiver can best receive the message. You construct the message for either verbal or written communication. Between verbal and written communication, you have to construct the message differently for them to be received well. Encoding the message in a written manner could be more detailed, emotionally removed, and straightforward. Verbally, messages can convey more conviction and inflection, spark immediate conversation, and the detail in the message can be conveyed over the exchange.
Those are just a couple of examples regarding the importance of how the sender encodes the messages. Moreover, the important consideration in the encoding stage is how you think the sender will best respond and receive the information from the message.
Reflect on the construction of the message itself to know if it will be well received. Think about the format, who you are sending the message to, and the overall purpose of the message.
Do you have your thoughts together in an organized manner that will help you convey the message well? Could you word your message differently so that it can be better understood by the client? Think about the reaction that the message could elicit from the client.
How are you delivering the message to your client? If written, will you send a text or an email? If the message regards something important to your business and requires an air of professionalism, then send an email. You can also consider arranging a conversation in person or by phone call. Or if the message does not need to be documented and requires a quick response, then shoot a text.
You can communicate directly with clients through FitSW’s messenger feature. This streamlines the professional channel for staying in touch with clients.
The receiver must be taken into account at all steps of the communication model. Communication between different types of clients will be necessary to build good relationships with them. For example, an easygoing client who rarely gives any pushback would probably receive a text about a cancellation or a rescheduling well.
On the other hand, a client who has a tight schedule and is quick to complain might appreciate a call about a cancellation more than a text. This goes without saying, but you need to read the room before constructing and delivering your messages to clients.
Also, consider the noise that affects the client’s ability to understand and perceive your message the way you intend it.
Keep in mind how the receiver will decode the message and retain the information you have given them. Often, there are many ways the receiver can decode the message and this can cause a good or bad outcome. Therefore, you must make your message clear and distinct in its delivery and encoding.
Here is an example of how a client can decode the message in a way that you did not intend:
You send a client of two years an email about the prospect of cutting their training hours. They have been making good progress, so you believe they can take on more responsibility for their workouts.
However, the client takes this as a sign that you are starting to ease up on their training and care less about their progress as you take on other clients. Therefore, you have to backtrack and explain that you will still hold them accountable, but it’s time they can start managing the third workout of the week on their own to instill the habit of working out.
That leads us nicely into feedback! Listening for the feedback from your clients is imperative to take steps forward with your responses. Feedback will give you all the answers you need for what you do well and what you don’t do well when communicating with clients. With that being said, every client is different!
Communication Tactics To Keep in Mind and Use
Practice mirroring communication styles with clients. This is something people do naturally with others. Mirroring changes the game when it comes to selling sessions successfully and maintaining an open, honest line of communication with clients.
Most importantly, have empathy throughout the conversations you have with clients. Yes, be tough on them when the time is right and when it’s necessary to keep them on track. However, being tough and being kind both come from places of empathy. Using the emotional strings to your advantage in conversation will always make for more meaningful and effective conversation.
As said before, communicate with confidence, empathy, and efficacy. You know what you are capable of as a professional personal trainer, so be sure to hold that air of confidence and control throughout your communications with clients. Analyzing these steps of the communication process will help you achieve overall effective communication with clients.