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Fear of calling and communicating with the customer
Fear of calling and communicating with the customer
How can a developer improve their communication skills and learn how to communicate their point of view?
The fear of expressing and defending one's opinion is one of the main problems faced by many novice (and not only) developers.
A long and purposeful avoidance of any oral discussions – calls, meetups, retrospectives, master classes - is bad.
Why is that?
Firstly, it blocks your additional expertise. You could have offered new "chips", more convenient tools, optimal architecture, but you didn't do it because you didn't want to get into arguments once again. Therefore, the quality of your projects can grow very slowly for a long time.
Secondly, because of your inability to defend your point of view, you often agree with other people's decisions that you do not consider really successful, purely hypothetically. This is threatened by the fact that the implementation of the project may take place without much pleasure, which will have a bad effect on motivation.
Thirdly, the fear of discussions greatly slows down your professional growth.
What can help in the fight against the fear of communication?
1. Tip one – discuss by text
Oral "debate of the parties" is a really complicated process. Arguments that look so well in the head when translated into speech often begin to seem complicated and confusing, and therefore unconvincing. The interlocutors may disagree with you only because they will not understand half of what is offered. The text format will help to avoid this: describe your proposal in detail and let your opponent get acquainted with it before the call. An oral conversation after that will be much easier, and maybe it won't even be necessary.
2. Tip two – discuss with one person
If it is difficult for you to communicate with several opponents at once, train with one interlocutor. The fewer participants, the more productive the conversation. Take an open and friendly position – then the opponent will unconsciously do the same.
3. The third tip is to keep the adequacy
When you are just learning to express your opinion at work, there is always a risk of overdoing it and starting to impose your position regardless of the circumstances. You should always understand with whom you are going to enter into a discussion: if your opponent is much more experienced, most likely, he has already faced a similar problem, and it is better to listen. It is also worth remembering that the style of communication affects your reputation in the team. Fans of arguing and proving their case to everyone try to avoid.
4. Tip four – train outside the work environment
The fear of collective discussions helps overcome team games – no matter if they are sports or intellectual, offline or online.
The most important thing is not to be ashamed of your ignorance. If you don't know something, say so! Ask for time to sort out the incomprehensible stack and figure it out. This will show that you take a responsible approach to work and inform in advance that the task will take more time. And the willingness to accept advice and other people's opinions is one of the signs of professional maturity, because the more opinions, the higher the probability of taking into account all the nuances and not messing up during development.
Short stress Relief exercises
Watch funny videos. Laughter reduces blood pressure and pulse rate
A method of progressive muscle relaxation. You need to strain and then relax the main muscle groups for five seconds each. This will help slow down breathing and heartbeat, stabilize blood pressure and relax.
Breathe deeply. Just inhale for four counts, and then exhale for four counts as well.
Listen to music. Music, especially classical music, is a powerful tool in the fight against stress, helping to reduce the pulse rate, blood pressure and the level of harmful stress hormones.
Communication with foreign customers/clients
Rules of communication with the customer
The customer needs to respond
We will start with such an incredibly simple, but sudden truth: the customer generally needs to answer. Beginners often suffer from receiving messages, reading, doing something, but they are silent. And you need to a) answer and b) first figure out what they want from you, and write immediately: "That's right!". In addition, you need to respond to messages on time: if you promised to respond within an hour, answer, even if you are not ready, say at least something.
This technique helps well when communicating with the customer. Communicate the way he communicates. Listen to his phrases and apply them. In the process, you will understand which phrases are traditional for his communication culture, and what the customer will be pleased to hear.
It's important not to forget about things like empathy and emotional intelligence. The customer comes to us not because he is fabulously rich and wants to put money somewhere (although everything happens!), but because he has problems, he has already burned himself somewhere, lost something, leaked deadlines. His circumstances must be understood and respected. Not to take other people's problems to heart, but also not to abstract from them, be polite and sometimes compromise.
It is important to document everything
Record all agreements in writing and send them to the customer after the meeting: firstly, this way you will eliminate misunderstandings due to the language barrier, and secondly, in case of a dispute you will be able to prove your case.
For a beginner, it is very important not to be afraid to write to the customer himself and generally initiate communication. Especially if something is broken – you'd better tell me! If you can't fix it immediately before anyone notices, write: "Something went wrong...". But! When you report this, immediately offer a solution. And if he is not there, tell him that you are thinking over a plan and consulting with senior colleagues.
It is important to be open and not think that the customer is plotting against you. He is also nervous and worried when communicating with you. Yes, sometimes it's difficult, sometimes you don't want to explain a hundred times, sometimes it's unclear how and what to say – but you have to try, and if you keep silent, nothing good will come out. In the end, the customer will go to the specialist who supports the dialogue: we all want to be heard.
You can make communication (and life) easier for yourself if you are not afraid to ask again. Especially when you feel that there is a risk of not understanding the interlocutor. Clarify: "Did I understand you correctly that you want this and like this?". If they say, "Yes," that's fine, but they can answer, "No, I didn't mean that at all...". When the situation is very difficult, show examples – visually the information is perceived better. Specify why this feature is important. Ask about priorities. If the priority has changed dramatically, ask why.
Be attentive to speech
This item is "a little more about the mentality." For example, an English-speaking interlocutor should not write something like "I want... something" or "Do... something, please" - all this will be perceived as pressure or even as an order. Replace this with a complex construction like "Could you please provide me...", "Could you please give me..." and so on.
In turn, if someone writes to you "I have a few minor comments", think about whether this means "Rewrite completely". However, if your customer is an adequate person, this is usually followed by comments on the case, what and where to redo. A normal businessman will not tell you "Everything is fine" if he is not satisfied with the result.
A little bit about letters
This is an important point: when we correspond by text, the interlocutor does not hear our intonation, does not see our facial expressions and does not feel emotions at all. No matter how banal it may sound, do not neglect the use of emoticons and all these brackets ")))" in fact, many people really aggressively perceive the dot at the end of the sentence. And the further, the more this problem gets worse😊
Here we will touch on only the most basic points. For example, do not write all the questions in one pile – number them. Be aware that some customers generally prefer the "1 letter=1 question" system. Clarify this point. Someone will say that a lot of letters clog up his mailbox, and it is more convenient for another to respond sequentially to different letters than to frantically remember which questions from one letter he has already answered, and which still require his attention (as a result, this whole process is very addictive, including yours, which is not can continue without his answers). Of course, be attentive to the title of the letter – the essence of the question is brought out there. Before you write something, make a draft. Go away for five minutes, come back, reread. It may turn out that you did not formulate what you wanted to say at all.
If the customer is a villain
Important: the customer is not (always) a villain
Sometimes – and this is normal. It may seem to you that your customer is a real villain, an insidious type and an unpleasant interlocutor. This is not always the case. Don't forget that when a breakdown happens, he loses money on it. And, most likely, his users torment him, demanding to answer when everything works. Therefore, he is forced to put pressure on you, demanding similar answers.
Besides, as we said at the very beginning, the customer is also a person. He may get sick, crash his car in the morning, his other colleagues may yell at him – and he will involuntarily reflect all this in communication with you. He may also find that the situation in the market has changed, users who shout that they "Don't like everything!" can "jump on" him.There are many options!
How to calm down? The most banal, but far from obvious: remember that the customer pays you money. This should not be forgotten at all throughout the joint work. And even if he asks you to redo something, and you don't like it - he will pay you for it, and you will live on it and rejoice! If you really can't stand it, try to explain why you think he's wrong, explain why your solution fits better. Only very politely! But in order to be "polite" - you need to learn the language!
In fact, the customer may be a villain. What to do?!
Of course, sometimes there really are customers who communicate disrespectfully with your entire team. In this case, it is necessary to hold on and not react. It happens that a person literally begins to "carry" from scratch, if suddenly this happens (although such situations are rare, fortunately!), just let him let off steam and scream enough. If he angrily writes with a bunch "!!!!!!!!", read emotional messages diagonally, isolate the essence – what is his problem – and pay attention only to it, without taking everything else at your own expense. And still remember: he is a man, and a man is weak.