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Learning To Read. Searching for the Perfect Customer (Part 4 of a GENESIS® Blog series)

Pool Design article by Brian Van Bower, SWD Master, GENESIS® Ambassador & Co-Founder

Whether you choose to like them or not, bringing out the best in clients requires skill in reading their personalities.

There is no question that skill in understanding others is intuitive and comes easily to some but not to others. Whether you’re good at it or not, however, it’s something we all must try to do: In many cases, it’s only through understanding the client that we can ask the right questions and ultimately gain the information we need to make things work out for the best.

I have to admit to not being one who is gifted in this area, the reason being that reading people is primarily about listening. I’m known as someone who is good with people: I enjoy them and generally look for the good in most. But when it comes to effective listening, I’ve needed to work hard at it, doubtless because I’m such a ready talker that I sometimes don’t listen as well as I should.

Fortunately, good listening is something that anyone can learn. First, we must be prepared to be quiet – not easy for me by any means), but I’ve learned to restrain myself. In fact, I now recognize that although there’s always a great deal I would like to say to clients about the spectrum of possibilities available to them in their designs, it’s far more productive for me to keep my mouth closed, especially in early conversations with clients.

When I do speak up, I’ve learned techniques for drawing people out and asking questions that will garner meaningful responses. The hard part for me has always been listening to their responses, and I now make a conscious effort to do so. (I’ve found that taking notes is not only a good way to retain what my clients are saying, but it also prompts me to fall silent more often than I might otherwise.)

It’s human nature to want to open up to those we perceive to be a good audience, but when I’m with clients I make sure that I’m really there with them and focused on their needs. This is often tough, however, because there are so many distractions and multiple issues running through my mind about the project at hand and others on which I’m working.

I can and do fight through those patches and consciously remind myself that when I’m with a client – in person or on the phone – I must focus all of my attention in his or her direction. People know intuitively when they’re being listened to or when they’re not, and it’s a plain fact that nobody likes to be ignored.

And for crying out loud, when I’m with a client, I do everything I can to resist interrupting the proceedings to answer my blasted cell phone! If there’s anything that says “I don’t care about you right now” more than disrupting a conversation because you’re a slave to your cell phone, I don’t know what that might be.

GENESIS® Ambassador & Co-Founder

Brian Van Bower

Aquatic Consultants Inc.
13775 SW 145 CT. Suite A
Miami FL 33186
T (305) 383-7266
F (305) 383-7266
Skype: bvanbower and andy.kaner