Working virtually means that you might never see eye to eye with you clients and it is up to you to make sure you understand your clients’ message and know exactly what their needs and expectations are.
Virtual communication is in my eyes a bit different from eye to eye communication because you cannot see or interpret the body language of your clients. That’s why virtual assistants should not only communicate with their clients, they should connect with them.
I don’t know if you still remember those black, roundish sweets called nickerballs. They consisted of several layers and were so hard you could not just bite them; you had to suck through the hard black liquorice shell and the different coloured layers to eventually reach the core of the nickerball.
Communication is like a nickerball. You have to figuratively suck through the hard shell and the different coloured layers to eventually reach the core essentials of what is needed to connect with your clients.
You cannot connect with your clients if you do not listen to them. Active listening is the most important ingredient of effective communication and an essential part of the virtual assistance puzzle. Make it your motto to:
1. Listen with concentration
Listening is the key ingredient of effective communication and it is imperative to improve this skill. When your clients talk to you, listen and concentrate to make sure you hear what they are saying. Good listeners are not passive and they do not drift away with thoughts of their own, they concentrate on what is being said.
2. Listen without interruption
The purpose of listening is to understand the message. Although you might think you know and understand what your clients want to say, avoid the urge to interrupt or finish their sentences. Be polite, listen carefully and always “put your brain into gear before you put your mouth into motion”.
3. Listen with the mindset to discuss
Effective listening is not a one way street. Make notes of what is being said, ask questions and discuss the facts with your clients to make sure you leave no room for misunderstandings. The secret weapon to effective communication is to ask the right questions.
Remember, communication is like a nickerball … you cannot just bite through it to reach the centre; you have to suck through the layers in order to reach the core.
Don’t just communicate with your clients, connect with them. Listen actively and carefully, don’t interrupt when they are talking, make notes and ask the right questions in order to reach the core of their message, their needs and their expectations.