According to experts the words we speak, hear or read are only a small part of the way we communicate with one another. Experts suggest that in face-to-face situations, at least 70 percent of what is communicated is done without speaking a word. This is called nonverbal communication (but is speaks volumes!). I had a great example of this the other day when I went to a doctor’s office to have a skin check done and the office manager who also was the receptionist greeted me seated from behind a large antique desk. She took my name and asked me to be seated (which was in a small open area with a couch, a chair and her desk ). There were two other people seated on the couch and she proceeded to have a conversation with them about all of the treatments that they had in the past and what they could do to enhance their looks now, (she was trying to sell them services), I understood what she was doing, but to do it in front of another patient, I question that tactic. ( I think the other clients also felt this way because they kept looking at me with a less than a happy face).
The main points that I want to address is that when I walked into the office the only person I saw was the manager behind this big antique desk, so my eyes were drawn directly toward her. She was sitting with a humped over posture, her hair was totally wild (and I do not mean in a fashionable way) and when she opened her mouth, I could tell immediately that dental hygiene was not a high priority on her list (I am probably going to hear it for that remark). As the manager was talking to the other two people in the office she made over accentuated facial expressions, now I am not saying slightly accentuated, I mean over, like raising your eyebrows to your hairline, all of her expressions and gestures were over dramatized. It was hard to pay attention to what she was saying because her facial and gesture actions got in the way. I personally was wondering how this physician did not pick up on these nonverbal communication issues that were so distracting when she interview her.
When it was my turn to see the physician, the manager stood up and called my name (I was only two feet away) and when she came out from behind the desk her skirt took about a minute to follow her, it was long and flowing and she lifted it up and tucked it in the crook of her arm, (yes in a dramatic way).
My visit with the doctor went very well, I liked her very much and she performed a very extensive exam. But I had to wonder, about her choice for a representative for her practice, as I felt that this manager’s face-to-face contact with clients was less than client appealing. I am sure that no one has ever discussed these types of issue with either the physician or the manager.
Here are three very important key factors when having face-to-face interactions with clients;
1. Posture: Make sure you stand or sit up straight. I remember my mother always telling me to “stand up straight” slumping over says a lot of negative things about you. You just do not look confident when your shoulders are rolled over and your head is down.
2. Facial expressions: Your face communicates even when your voice does not. What is it saying when your eyebrows are raised up to your hairline and your mouth is wide open and you are just saying “hello”. Dramatic expressions are a distraction for your clients and when they feel that the person with the over reactive facial expression is getting more attention them, they are not going to be happy. Do not distract from the customers needs and the attention that they deserve from your business.
3. Appearance: Look the part that you are playing. If you are the office manager, then look that part, not like you are a theatrical player in Hamlet. Unless you are required to wear a costume, then do not. Wear what is appropriate. If you are in a professional place of business then wear the proper attire for your business.
In closing, you should never be a distraction from what your business is there to offer your clients. When someone comes into your place of business they should feel like they are the most important person who is there. Dress the part, act the part and know the part to please your clients, not to take away from their visit with you.