How to avoid inadvertently alienating your clients

Imagine you’ve been working with clients for weeks and towards the end of your time working together, you realise you’ve been secretly and silently offending and alienating them.

Certainly not the sort of situation that produces raving testimonials right?

The thing is, alienating your clients is a lot easier to do than you think, if you don’t follow the golden rule of CLIENT PROFILING before you start working with someone. Down the bottom there’s a full lesson available on how to effectively profile your clients before you work with them, but just in case you’re thinking PFFFT as if I need to do that, I know my clients, I’m all good, let’s see what can happen when you don’t.

If you don’t know enough about their culture…

Read the story at this link to find out how I presented myself in Japan as a perverted arsehole on day one. Seriously. Doesn’t get any better than this for making horrendous first impressions – but all because I simply didn’t know enough about Japanese culture before I started socialising with people. (Note to anyone travelling to Japan. Do NOT yell CHIN CHIN when ‘cheers’ing your drink, and NEVER pour your own drink).

Or read this one, to learn from the mistake we made in the Pacific which slowed our project down considerably. You just don’t know what you don’t know until you’re shown how little you do know!~

But I digress. Language barriers and cultural barriers are just ONE of the ways you can go about alienating your clients. It goes much deeper than that though.

Not knowing enough about their background, be that educational, social, cultural or in terms of their work experience, can have you making a right &ss of yourself right from the outset.

If you don’t know enough about their social or environmental background…

Take a class I was teaching with a bunch of refugees. We were talking about their home culture and what their home towns looked like (using basic language to describe the landscape and townscape). One of the girls who was usually quite chatty was silent for the whole lesson regardless of the prompts I gave her and thinking she was just having an off day, I let her be.

At the end of the class though, she came up to me, nudged me, and said

‘Maria, I don’t know my home country. I’ve lived in a refugee camp my whole life. I don’t want to talk about refugee camp as my home country. I must?’

Well way to go &sshole. Ground. Open up. Swallow me.

If you’re not aware of their work experience or qualifications….

You may end up preaching to the converted, telling them things they already know, or pitching the level WAY too low or high for them. We’ve all been in workshops where we’ve thought ….

What a waste of time – I knew most of this already! If I’d known, I wouldn’t have come!

I’ve had fully qualified teachers with 20 years experience in my classes who have been forced to attend PD sessions they could probably teach themselves. You might think this is a nightmare situation to be put into, but I use it to my advantage by finding out who they are, what their experience is, then using them and their stories to enhance and extend the materials I use to start with.

It ends up being a win-win for everyone as we all get to benefit from their experience but imagine the state of the workshop if they were sat there fuming the whole time being told things they already knew? Nightmare.

So what can you do to avoid the nightmare scenarios and use your clients backgrounds to benefit your classrooms?

Do the research. Find out what they do and don’t know about working in your field, then pitch at a level that is going to resonate with them. Use their unique experiences to help mould and craft a learning experience that is going to speak to them directly, challenge them and push them to grow their skills with your help. With a little time and effort, you can easily learn how to avoid inadvertently alienating your clients.

Ready to find out how to source that information?

So you don’t end up with egg on YOUR face by alienating clients, the lesson below has step by step questions and examples to help guide you on how to create your own pre-work surveys. Profile your clients. Get the intelligence. Then use it to create a learning experience that blows them out of the water.

The lesson is available here.

It’s located in the FOUNDATIONS Level of the Library, in the Product Development course:

Lesson 1.1 Client Profiling

Click on the above link to be taken directly to the Lesson. If you’re already  a member of the Product Development  course, make sure you’re logged in! If you’re not, you’ll be redirected to the page where you can become a member.This video was inspired by a gorgeous Burmese refugee who put me in my place – and then some.

client profiling and inadvertently alienating clients

Great content stuck in your head & hard drives?

So much to think about . . .

>> What to put in & leave out, in what order?

>> How to package it? Or deliver it? Online?

>> Will it just be a waste of time & money?

>> Will the content actually help people and help me build my reputation as the go-to-professional in my field?

My quiz can help!

Do this 3 minute quiz, and find out exactly which areas you need help with.

6 thoughts on “How to avoid inadvertently alienating your clients”

  1. Thank you for the good advice.
    Although many of us would have stories like that it is good to hear it again that often we are so rushed and focussed on the outcome that we forget we need to get it right at the start.

  2. LOVE IT!! It’s all about really taking an interest and knowing the people we are dealing with. Plus having the courage to own up to our mistakes, because they will happen from time to time!

  3. Oh my golly yes, have put my foot in it many a time, within my own culture and out, wish I hadn’t banished those experiences to the very back of my mind so I could learn from them now …. Thankfully I’m so much better at listening and empathising and recognising the many different paths to cause ours to now cross. Of course I still don’t get it right all the time but at least welcome getting to know myself and others more now.

    Thoroughly enjoying your insights Maria!

    Kylie Bevan
    Health & Relocation Coach


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