Working Well With Introverted Clients:
by Marcia Yudkin
Skittish. Cocooned. Loyal. Disciplined. Introverts are those who enjoy their own company and need time alone to recharge. They may or may not be shy, but they donít talk for the sake of talking and arenít at their best in a loud, crowded situation.
Youíre more likely to describe introverts as interesting
people than as exciting folks to be around. (To an introvert, thatís a compliment, rather than a put-down.) According to researchers, the percentage of introverts gets higher as you go up the income scale, so if you work with the affluent or with those in professions that attract quiet workers, youíre more likely to run into them.
As clients, they may require special interpersonal measures Ė particularly if you yourself have backslapping, chatty, everyoneís-a-friend tendencies.
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1. Respect the Introvertís Reserve
Introverts understand the need for a handshake as a social greeting, but donít go beyond that. They dislike social hugs, and even a casual hand on the shoulder may feel out of line to them if they regard you as a business associate. Personal comments, like compliments on what theyíre wearing or guesses about the ethnic origin of their name, which might establish rapport with someone else, can feel intrusive to introverts. A jokey style that prods them to respond in kind starts off with them on the wrong foot.
They appreciate it when you get down to business with a minimum of preliminaries. Allow them to talk without finishing their sentences for them or interrupting.
2. Respect the Introvertís Privacy
Introverts do not relish the idea of others knowing personal information about them, unless itís absolutely necessary. Theyíre the ones who come up ďprivateĒ on caller ID, who have unlisted telephone numbers, who bring up the issue of confidentiality at the outset of a relationship. They may balk at writing a testimonial even when theyíre extremely pleased with how youíve helped them, because it exposes something about themselves.
Donít expect them to carry on business in a packed restaurant, where the waiter and people at neighboring tables can overhear. Without their permission, donít disclose even innocuous facts about an introvert, such as the fact that you saw them last Wednesday or that they went to Cornell, to others. Reassure them that everything that goes on in your meetings stays within your four walls. If you set up a working lunch, choose a quiet place and reserve a table in a corner Ė or order in for your conference room.
3. Deal With an Introvert One on One
Introverts come out of their shells most easily with just one other person at a time. In a group, they fear looking stupid or feeling vulnerable. They appreciate having your full attention when face to face. Donít allow telephone or walk-in interruptions, and donít
"unobtrusively" check your BlackBerry or your computer monitor. They notice.
If youíre advising a pair of clients where one doesnít say much, donít presume silence means the quiet person has no questions or agrees with the talkative one. Draw out the introvert by asking for their input and waiting for them to gather their thoughts.
4. Donít Pressure an Introvert
Introverts process information better on their own and may need time and space to make decisions. Expecting them to respond on the spot may get you nowhere. Impatience with their
"what ifs" will backfire, big time.
In a setting that suits them, introverts can be funny, creative, warm, congenial, productive and loyal. Create that setting for them, and you can enjoy doing business with them for years and years and years.
P.S. If you're an introvert and could use
intensive feedback and guidance on your
branding, web site, marketing strategy or a
publication project, come work with me
one-on-one next spring on Maui. Your
retreat is structured so you have ample time to
relax on the beach and tour the island, too -
and most likely, your whole trip is tax
private marketing retreat.
And be sure to
download the free Marketing
for Introverts Manifesto!
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