5 Ways to Improve Communication with Clients & Staff

Karen E. Purves, M.A. is an award-winning International Speaker and Communications Expert as well as a former NEC presenter. Karen areas of specialty include: Verbal and Email Communication, Marketing and Sales, Leadership Training, Professional Development, Customer Service and more. She has been invited to speak at the SGMP Annual Conference twice. To learn more about Purves, feel free to visit
It's an old adage, and it remains true: “People can forget what you say or do, but they don't often forget how you make them feel.” Subtle differences in your conversational techniques can help others feel more positive and more willing to cooperate with you. Whether you're talking to staff or clients, the following practical, real-world tactics will help you become a more effective—and listened-to—communicator.
1. Change “Thank you” into “Thank you for.” In some situations, “thank you” in and of itself is better than not showing any appreciation at all, but the majority of people won't remember it if you just say, “thank you.” Instead, add the key word “for” and be specific about what this person has done for you. “Thank you for taking over for me at the meeting.” “Thank you for doing that extra research.” If you change “Thank you” to “Thank you for …” people tend to actually remember you said “thank you” and, if asked, rate you as having higher credibility.
2. Instead of “if,” say, “when.” Saying “If you do this” or “If you don't respond” assumes the person won't follow through on something. However, saying “When you do this” or “When you respond” you are actually assuming they will follow through, which induces a small amount of guilt, and increases the likelihood the person will complete the task.
3. Disagree with someone? Ask a question instead of arguing. When people disagree, the natural temptation is to convince the other person they are wrong and the many reasons you are right. Instead of trying to prove your point, ask the question, “What are your reasons for that?” This tactic can increase your understanding of the other person's mentality as well as identify some possible creative solutions.
4. Instead of “Do you have any questions?” ask “What questions do you have?” If you phrase your question “do you?", people will automatically want to say, “No,” even if they're thinking, “Yes”, so they won't look “dumb”. Instead, say, “What questions do you have?” Similarly, “Can I ask you a question?” makes you sound weak; “I have a question for you” is much more powerful. Changing passive language to active language allows the other person to feel you are speaking with more confidence, and this in turn increases the likelihood they will cooperate.
5. Instead of saying “I know,” say “You're right.” “You're right” is an instant compliment; people instantly feel "right". Instead of saying “I know [that already],” say “You're right [about that idea].” You will leave people with the feeling you're a secure person who isn't interested in always proving how knowledgeable you are. Instead, the other person can see you as someone who is concerned with acknowledging others' knowledge and respecting their contributions.