Understanding client communication preferences

In this installment of our series aimed at helping you understand your own personality style and that of your clients, I’m focusing in on communication preferences. If you haven’t done so already, you may want to read the first article. It contains a link to a quick online assessment that will generate your own personal profile report. Or click here to go directly to the assessment. This report will allow you to get maximum value out of this and subsequent articles, as it will provide details about your own style and help you determine the personality style of your clients. The report categorizes the four personalities as: Gold: Structure oriented, Orange: action oriented, Blue: people oriented and Green: logic oriented.
Understanding client communication preferencesClear direction and logistical details are critical to event success. How should you best communicate with your client to achieve this?

The saying “the devil is in the details” is very true for delivering a successful event. You know you need to think through every element of the event to ensure it flows seamlessly from start to finish. The challenge is, how much does your client want or need to be involved? Here are the things to watch for during the flow of communication between yourself and your client that will allow you to peg their personality style and communicate with them in the most effective manner possible.

Gold – Structure oriented style: Information flow will primarily be through email. The structure-oriented personality likes the orderly nature of writing things out. It’s a way of ensuring requirements are crystal clear, comprehensive and documented so that there is something to refer back to if there is ambiguity down the road.

Orange – Action oriented style: Information flow will generally be informal and sporadic. As thoughts come into the client’s mind, they will either make a quick call or send a text or email.

Blue – People oriented style: Information will ideally flow in face to face meetings or on the phone where there is a two way dialogue. Blue clients love creativity so they will often express very imaginative ideas.

Green – Logic oriented style: Information flow will generally be through email as the most efficient way of communicating needs. They like to think things through fully before sharing details, so it will likely be a comprehensive communication when it does come. Green clients also have a very high need for clarity, so you will find that they often ask a lot of questions.

Here are some tips on how to best communicate with each of the four personality types:

Gold – Structure oriented:

  • Be specific – Fill them in on the details they need to know, but don’t overwhelm them with too many abstract ideas or generalizations.
  • Outline priorities – Be very clear about expectations and order of importance. Golds are most comfortable knowing they are on track and meeting requirements.
  • Plan ahead – Knowing what you are going to say before you say it is helpful when conversing with a Gold client. They like it when you are prepared.
  • Stay on target – They can get irritated if you don’t complete one concept before skipping to another.
  • Don’t interrupt – When beginning a conversation with a Gold client, wait until they have finished what they are doing and acknowledge you.

Orange – Action oriented:

  • Be informal – However, keep in mind that even though their approach may be light-hearted; they are serious about accomplishing their goals.
  • Give them an audience – Oranges have a need to share their excitement. Allow them to tell you an adventure or blow off some steam without trying to give them advice.
  • Use sound bites – Orange clients get distracted and bored easily, so be direct and to the point. Remember they love to multi-task and thus like to work on several things at one time.
  • Be prepared to listen for straight content – Keep in mind Oranges are not trying to be rude when they do not slow down to greet you before expressing their needs. They are trying to accomplish a goal.

Blue – People oriented:

  • Acknowledge them – First and foremost acknowledge a Blue client as a person before diving into your agenda.
  • Let them know you care – Show them you care about them as a person, that they are unique and that you care how they feel.
  • Listen for feelings – When you try to communicate with a Blue, listen to the feelings behind their words.
  • Hear them out – Blue clients can feel anything from crushed to furious because someone did not at least listen to what they had to say.

Green – Logic oriented:

  • Give them time to think – Greens like to ponder the subject at hand. They like to weigh many possible options before responding.
  • Don’t misinterpret their need for information as anything else – Realize they have a need to question and explore.
  • Sticks to logic – Green clients are not usually influenced by emotional appeals.
  • Notice their humour – Many Greens have a wry sense of humour that can sometimes be misunderstood.

Understanding your own communication preferences is the first step. Success then depends on adjusting your communication style to recognize and facilitate the style of each of your clients. While I’ve focused above primarily on how to communicate instead of what to communicate, and despite the fact that each personality style prefers differing levels of detail, you should always ensure that enough information is relayed and exchanged to meet your goal of a seamless event from start to finish.

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