We started the week out discussing the importance of setting expectations. We have covered how to be assertive, to make good first impressions and how to be heard. But all of the above is of little benefit without a simple ingredient: clarity on what you want to convey to the world around you. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not all about you. Your conversations with clients are going to be predominantly about what THEY want. However, as a professional, the course of the conversation should be directed by you. Without clear direction, you and your clients will talk to each other rather than with each other.
We tend to have an unrealistic assessment of the degree of clarity we possess about even our most basic needs and wants. Let me give you an example. WIthout pausing, write down your mission statement as you now have it memorized. Go ahead. Don’t have a mission statement? OK. Write down your elevator speech as you have it memorized. No? OK. Give me the five goals you established in your marketing plan for this year. Or better yet, write down, without hesitation, your response to the question “Can you get me a better deal on a cruise than I can find on Cruises.com?”
Not one of these items are strangers to you. Yet, my guess is fewer than 20% of you could answer them spontaneously rather than struggling to articulate the answer.
Clarity is not an accident or an inherent quality of thought. Clarity requires practice and preparation. Clarity about what you as a professional need from clients is paramount to successful communications. You cannot be making it up at the last minute.
You must be as prepared for the chance encounter as you are for the big meeting.
Travel professionals who have actively worked their practice for more than a year have encountered most of the questions and circumstances they need to understand to develop clear and articulate responses. You can learn to take charge of a conversation and properly direct a civilian client, to channel the information you need and to make the appropriate emotional connection necessary to move the relationship forward.
But not if you don’t analyze, plan and practice your craft.
Clarity is an achievement. Spend some time thinking through the course of your last few client encounters and decide how you could have improved the result. You will discover yourself evolving into a better communicator for the effort.
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