What Is Your Client’s Communication Style? What Is Yours?

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Everybody has their own communication style. Yet many freelance writers do not realize this, and try to use a cookie cutter mold to communicate with all of the clients.

The cookie cutter approach doesn’t work.

You need to be aware of how your clients prefer to communicate and how you prefer to communicate.

When your preferred style doesn’t match with a client’s style, you should be ready to make the necessary adjustments.

Communication problems are one of the biggest obstacles freelance writers face. And communications problems often stem from a clash of communication style.

5 Different Communication Styles

So, what different communication styles are there? Here are five different communication styles that your client may have:

  1. Postmodern communicator. This client prefers to use modern tools like text messages and social media to communicate with others. They hate phone calls. They may ignore an email or letter.
  2. Tools-based communicator. This client conducts most of his or her business using an impersonal method like email or a project management tool.
  3. Human touch needed. This client seems to need to hear your voice. They are likely to schedule a phone meeting or video conference. Emails hold little significance for them.
  4. Traditional formal communication only. For years, formal business correspondence was the way that things got done. For many people, traditional communication is still their preferred style. Yes, I’m talking about snail mail, although faxes are also included.
  5. Face-to-face. The final communication style is face-to-face. These clients prefer to meet and get to know the freelancer who will be working on their project. They are likely to be local, although you may meet them at a conference.

Are you surprised by the differences?

Why So Different?

So, what’s behind the differences in communication style? And most importantly, how can you tell what style a prospective client prefers?

At first glance, you might think that the differences are generational–and to some extent they are. Younger clients tend to be postmodern or tool-based communicators because they have grown up with and are comfortable with those methods of communication.

But personality plays a huge role too. For example, extroverts tend to like a human touch in their communication. They want to talk to someone or meet them face-to-face. Introverts, on the other hand, tend to be postmodern or tools-based communicators.

So, if you’re dealing with a new client or prospect, how do you know what type of communication works best with them.

The answer to discovering your client’s communication style is simple. Pay attention. Here are some methods you can use:

  • How does the client communicate with you? If they contact you by email, they probably prefer that. If they called you, the telephone may be their preferred communication method.
  • When does the client respond? If you send them an email and it takes forever to get an answer, try giving them a call instead.
  • Ask. It’s okay to ask the client what type of communication method they prefer. You don’t have to guess. Surprisingly, many freelancers forget this simple truth.

Over to You

What communication style do you prefer? How do you handle differences between your preferred communication style and your client’s preferred style?

Share your answers in the comments.

Comments

  1. says

    That’s a good outline of the different styles, Laura. I love communicating by email because I can choose my response time. However, I have a couple of clients who value phone or face to face time. Sometimes it’s worth having an initial face to face meeting before transitioning to email and phone to build the relationship with the client.

  2. Laura Spencer says

    Sharon,

    Thanks. I also prefer email, but I’ve learned to adjust my style based on the client I’m working with. It sounds like you have done the same. :)

  3. says

    I recall seeing Ballet Trockadero and watching a watching one of the dancers transform from ballet style to dance style in a few steps across the stage. I was very impressed with the skill and the understanding the dancer had of what goes into a style.

    Then there are singers who can sing one kind of song – say a ballad – but not something bluesy or rock.

    What I mean is that I don’t know whether everyone can adjust their writing style. They can try – but maybe not be able to do it successfully.

    I have great respect for writers who can create good copy that suits their target audience.

  4. says

    Great point, Laura. The real challenge are the clients who don’t like to communicate in any form. :-D

    But, all kidding aside, you place the focus where ir should be – what’s your client preference. I don’t seem to have as much of an aversion to phone communication as some freelancers appear to have. But, if I have a client who prefers the phone, that’s fine with me. Typically, I attempt to set a precedent of scheduling a call (even if I know it’s going to be quick) to show respect for their time and mine. Of course, there are exceptions.

    Most of my clients prefer emails and that’s fine with me, too. Good explanation, Laura.

  5. says

    David Bennett–I think we’re using the word “style” differently here. If I understand your comment, you’re using it in the sense of the writer’s voice. I do agree that the writer’s voice can be difficult to change, but I also believe can be done. I’m using the word “style” to describe the manner in which people communicate.

    Cathy Miller, “…clients who don’t like to communicate in any form.” Sad, but true. That is quite a challenge. :) I schedule calls too. It’s just too chaotic to allow clients to unexpectedly call.

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