Celebrate Independence as a Core Value

Photo credit: Kendrick Mills for unsplash.com

Photo credit: Kendrick Mills for unsplash.com

Every year in the United States, we citizens celebrate Independence Day on July 4. On this day in 1776, members of the Continental Congress signed and enacted the United States of America’s Declaration of Independence from British Empire rule. At the time, there were just 13 states, and those states pulled away from Great Britain as a sign of freedom, independence, and democracy.

Most Americans look forward to this day every year because of the parades, picnicking, eating their favorite foods, and of course, must-see fireworks displays. We gorge ourselves on food when what we need instead is a healthy serving of appreciation for what independence truly means.

For me, independence is one of my top core values. I love my independence as a woman, a second generation American, an entrepreneur, a community volunteer, and a creative spirit. I am also an independent thinker.

When my parents took my older siblings and me to watch the fireworks display or ignite our own sparklers in our front yard on the Fourth of July, I had no idea what we were celebrating. Growing up, I just knew it was a lot of fun.

Now that I’m older, I value my independence even more. With that independence also comes responsibility. I can choose to work where I want, live where I want, be friends with whomever I wish, come and go as I please, support whatever causes I want, share my voice, express myself, and live my life as fully as I can. Take any of this away from me, and I am diminished. I feel less than. Not every person enjoys the same sense of independence as I do. I would love to see that change so that all Americans felt safe in sharing their voices, without ridicule or disrespect. Every American deserves the right to benefit from America’s Founding Documents, The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and The Bill of Rights. We need to do better. In our workplaces and in our communities, we must value each other’s choices and voices. We must continue to fight for equality and what is right and just for all people.

As you gather around the campfire or picnic table today, ask yourself, “What do I value the most about my independence?” Be grateful that you live in a country that allows you to be independent. Appreciate it and value it for what it is today.

Give Your Vocabulary a Power Boost

Photo credit: Jeremy Beck for unsplash.com

Photo credit: Jeremy Beck for unsplash.com

Do you really listen to the words you use when you speak? You get so used to hearing your own voice, you could forget the words you choose or their meaning. With a little effort, give your vocabulary a power boost. In the process, position yourself as a knowledgeable professional.

Time is money. Every second is precious. Less is more. That’s why professionals speak in sound bytes. Here are a few tips to help you pack more punch into what you say:

Use simple words. Ask professionals what they prefer when communicating with other people, and they will undoubtedly say, “Be direct…Give me the facts…Don’t beat around the bush.” Some people lose the listener because they talk around issues or they talk over other people’s heads. People come away asking, “What did that person say?” Be clear and concise. Choose your words carefully. Which word gets to the point faster? Parsimonious or stingy? One of my colleagues shared an example: Eager to have lunch served quickly at a business meeting, my friend asked the waiter to “expedite” the order. The confused waiter returned a few minutes later asking what the word meant. Use language that is appropriate to the listener. Words with five syllables are more likely to be misunderstood than shorter words. Be careful you’re not using those big words only to impress.

Be specific. Professionals appreciate specific information that helps them understand your perspective. If you’re in sales, for instance, it’s better to say that your products are used by nurses, not workers in the healthcare industry. Information becomes clearer when you provide more details. Management team is more specific than work team. Fortune 500 CEO is more descriptive than company leader. Broad descriptions can sometimes defeat your purpose.

Use action verbs. Passive verbs simply state that you were, are, or will be doing something. Action verbs are direct and show motion. Let’s look at an example. You are presenting to a potential client. You want to show your qualifications for handling the client’s business, so you say, “I was the vice president of marketing for the Harper Company.” The sentence is weak because was is a passive word. By changing your comment to, “I directed the $2 million marketing campaign for the Harper Company,” the sentence has more impact. It’s easy to say, “I have 40 representatives working for me.” Want more power? Change it to, “I manage 40 representatives.”

Paint a picture with descriptive words. Let’s say you are encouraging team members to use a new time management app. You could outline the features (full calendar access, information sharing, reminders, notices, color coded tasks, etc.) or you could paint a visual picture outlining the benefits. “Imagine tracking productivity throughout every work day, staying focused, and seeing what you have accomplished. The XYZ app does that.” The key starter word here is imagine. That one word allows the team member to visualize a more productive, efficient work life.

Avoid jargon. Professionals often get stuck in the verbal “trend zone.” You have heard them all, and you have used them at one time or another. Paradigm shift. Empowerment. Interface. Awesome. Totally. Rubrics. Drill down. Robust. Bandwidth. Whatever. Transparency. The problem with jargon is that it is overused and unoriginal. Don’t use jargon as a crutch. Jargon is a sign of the times; it is not timeless. If you use outdated jargon, you risk positioning yourself as someone who is not in the know. Also, be careful you don’t sound like a surfer dude or valley girl during those important client presentations.

What are you going to do about it? Your first step: Read this short, helpful article by Minda Zetlin, Want a Bigger Vocabulary? Try These 7 Mobile Apps.

Words help to shape your world. In business, you can change the perceptions of your clients, co-workers, and the C-Suite by choosing words that make your messages more powerful.

Value and Appreciate Face-to-Face Communication

Photo credit: Abdullah Oguk for unsplash.com

Photo credit: Abdullah Oguk for unsplash.com

I had an experience recently that reinforced my belief that nothing can replace or duplicate face-to-face communication. Not a real time video connection. Not a real time phone conversation. Not any form of technology. Face-to-face communication continues to be the most intimate form of communication, hands down, for two reasons:

First, nonverbal cues are a necessary component of communication. Face-to-face communication allows you to check the other person’s nonverbal cues to see if they support or detract from the message. Eye behavior, facial expressions, gestures, body movement, posture, appearance, and silence offer valuable clues to the meaning behind the message.

Second, face-to-face communication allows for the “dance” of going back and forth during the exchange, in what communication scholars call turn-taking. Each person takes a turn at sending and receiving information, of asking for clarification, and responding.

Recently, I made an email request to someone. The email was perfectly outlined, easy to understand, and all of the main points appeared with bullet points. As emails go, it was an effective email. The email response took me aback when my request was denied. The person recommended that we continue the conversation if I wanted to chat more.

As luck would have it, I saw this woman at an event. This, I thought, was the perfect opportunity to reinforce my request in person. Within just a few minutes, I offered her additional information, answered questions, and expanded on several ideas. As she began to learn more, her nonverbal cues relaxed, which revealed that she was warming up to the idea of granting my request. She even suggested a potential win-win solution.

It’s easy in a busy work environment to quickly send emails because emails are effective communication tools. Yet sometimes when we have experiences like the one I had, we remind ourselves that sometimes in-person communication is simply better. In my case, my request was better met by investing a few minutes in face-to-face communication.

What’s on your communication “to do” list that would be served best with a face-to-face encounter?

Professionalism Is No Laughing Matter

laugh-a-day-gives-results-that-pay-the-power-of-humor-in-the-workplaceActor Charlie Chaplin said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” I completely agree. Where does laughter fit into the workplace? Is it appropriate? Is it annoying? Does it depend on the situation?

While facilitating a presentation skills program recently, I noticed a “quirk” in one of the participants. Laughter. She was using laughter as a coping mechanism to offset her nervousness. The result: Her behavioral quirk detracted from her message.

Every time I called on her for input, she laughed. When she delivered a sample two-minute presentation, she giggled several times. As we met in a one-on-one evaluation session that afternoon, I shared my observation with her. I asked, “Is crying in the workplace acceptable and appropriate?” She immediately answered, “No.” I then asked, “What about laughter?” She replied, “Not really.” At that moment, I shared my perspective with her.

I explained to her that, as a young woman, she could be sending the wrong message by tagging a giggle or a laugh onto her comments as a coping mechanism. People may not be taking her as seriously. Instead of thinking of her as a professional, they may think that she’s a little goofy, or that she may not represent the company in the most favorable light when interacting with customers, or that she doesn’t have the maturity for that next promotion. “You could be sabotaging your own success as a professional,” I told her. She then explained that her husband had talked to her about the exact same issue. “How do I change that?” she asked me. The solution is simple: Change begins with self-awareness. Now that she is aware of this nervous habit, she can catch herself and begin changing. After a while, she will no longer tag a giggle onto the end of a sentence.

Let’s be clear: Laughter is good. Laughter in the workplace is good. Repetitive nervous laughter that detracts from your message is not good.

Do you have a behavioral quirk that – if done repeatedly – could be diminishing your professionalism? Do a quick scan of your behavior. Check for any nervous habits that are detracting from your message or distracting others. Once you become aware, you can and will change.

Take Time Today to Say “Thank You” For a Job Well Done

Photo credit: Pete Pedroza for unsplash.com

Photo credit: Pete Pedroza for unsplash.com

Today is Administrative Professionals Day. This day of recognition for hard-working support staff falls on the last Wednesday of April each year. Celebrations like this beg the question,  How often should you thank someone for doing a good job? In my humble opinion, you should thank anyone who does a good job anytime it comes to your mind. Hopefully it’s more than once a year!

Beyond saying the words “Thank You,” remember to show it in your body language as well.

During one of my communication workshops, I emphasized the importance of aligning verbal and nonverbal language. I discussed how we communicate nonverbally in six primary ways (facial expressions, gestures, posture, movement, appearance, and silence). When I reached the topic of Movement, a young woman (we’ll call her Jennifer) raised her hand and began to share her story with the group. She had learned an important lesson and wanted others to learn from the mistake she had made.

One day, a co-worker pulled her aside and said in confidence, “Sarah thinks you don’t like her.” To this, Jennifer replied in shock, “I love Sarah! She does so much to keep our entire department going. I couldn’t imagine us being as successful without her. Where did she get that idea from?” The co-worker said that Sarah, who was the department’s administrative assistant, explained that each morning she would say “Good morning!” to Jennifer as she walked in the door, yet Jennifer never replied. She interpreted Jennifer’s nonverbal language as “I don’t like you.”

You see, every morning Jennifer entered the building with coffee in one hand and her purse and computer bag in the other. She was focused on reaching her desk and getting to work immediately. She walked very quickly through the hallway, never noticing that Sarah was greeting her every day. “I just feel awful that Sarah thought that I didn’t like her. Thank you so much for sharing this with me,” Jennifer told her co-worker.

The next morning, Jennifer entered the building and said, “Good morning, Sarah.” Sarah replied with excitement and a wide smile, “Good morning, Jennifer!” From that moment on, Jennifer became much more aware of how her behavior affected co-workers. She also experienced firsthand how good it felt when she acknowledged Sarah.

Take the time to check your verbal and nonverbal language. Are they in alignment? Or are they incongruent and sending mixed messages? When you take the time to say “Thank you for doing a great job,” make sure your verbal and nonverbal language complement each other. Based on my experience, the simple recognition of a job well done is more greatly appreciated that any candy, flowers, or lunch. Happy Administrative Professionals Day to everyone who makes our day-to-day business operation run more smoothly.

Will Wardrobe Engineering Save Mark Zuckerberg?

The world waited with great anticipation: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s appearance before the Congressional Commerce and Judiciary Committee was finally beginning on April 10, 2018. Zuckerberg was summoned to discuss Facebook’s “privacy” policy and data breaches, which left millions of Facebook users’ personal data exposed to global trolls.

Rather than focusing on what Zuckerberg was saying, the media and late night pundits focused on something quite different: The Suit. Zuckerberg had traded in his signature gray tee shirt, blue jeans and sneakers for a more corporate look. Headlines focused on The Suit. The Washington Post headline read: Mark Zuckerberg is one of the suits. Now he’d better learn to get comfortable in one.

As the news media clamored to get the best shot of the “new and improved” Zuckerberg, I expected a reporter from E News to pop up ala runway style and ask, “Who are you wearing today, Mark?” To which Zuckerberg would confidently reply, “Marc Jacobs. That’s Marc with a c.” The brilliance of his dazzling smile would shatter the camera lens as he continued walking to the hearing.

But I digress.

What the media is paying such close attention to is known as Wardrobe Engineering. Defined as “how clothing and accessories are used to create a certain image,” what image do you think Zuckerberg was going for? The “I’m not guilty” image? The “I’m a successful, responsible American entrepreneur” image? The “You can trust me” image? The “I’m just like you” image? The New York Times called it the “I’m sorry suit.” The Times even created a “greatest suits appearances” slide show just for The Suit. Only time will tell how The Suit is ultimately interpreted by Congress.

Every politician, titan of industry and celebrity knows how to effectively wardrobe engineer. We all know that color plays an important role when you represent a certain political party, like how often Republicans wear red and Democrats wear blue. It’s no accident. And red, white and blue, well, that is just so absolutely, positively American, and safe. Then everyone will love you and vote for you, right?

Will wardrobe engineering save Mark Zuckerberg, though? It will take a lot more than a stylish suit to convince Congress. Or will it?

Watching this event unfold in the national news, I was reminded of my favorite graduate-level course on rhetorical criticism. The course’s book, Rhetorical Criticism: Exploration and Practice, was written by an academic communication scholar and rhetorical criticism expert, Dr. Sonja K. Foss. She defines rhetorical criticism as “a process of thinking about symbols, discovering how they work, why they affect us, and choosing to communicate in particular ways as a result of the options they present.” I remember vividly the moment when I understood the process of rhetorical criticism. It was as if a magic force cleansed my eyes so I could see more clearly and completely. When you look at the world and major events as they unfold, through the lens of rhetorical criticism, every piece of the picture – verbal and nonverbal communication, physical objects, and symbols – all take on a whole new meaning.

In her book, Foss emphasizes that rhetoric goes beyond just written and spoken discourse. According to Foss, symbolism is found in all forms of communication, such as “speeches, essays, conversations, poetry, novels, stories, television programs, films, art, architecture, plays, music, dance, advertisements, furniture, public demonstrations, and dress.” And I would add public hearings. In graduate-level rhetorical criticism classes right now, even though it’s nearing the end of the semester, students are sinking their teeth into this juicy news story and extracting meaning from every blink, gesture, vocal nuance, physical stance, room set-up, and yes, attire.

Professional image icon John T. Molloy wrote in his 1975 seminal book, Dress for Success, “Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have.” In Zuckerberg’s case, we’ll see where his wardrobe engineering leads him.

What professionals can learn from this very public hearing is that when it comes to telling your part of the story, it’s not just what The Suit looks like, it’s the meaning behind The Suit. A bigger question to ask is: What captures the essential, most important element: The truth?

Photo credit: Igor Ovsyannykov on Unsplash.com

Repositioning a Generation: How March for Our Lives Elevated Generation Z’s Image

ThankYouthPosterWhat has happened since the tragic February 14, 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, is truly remarkable. In just five short weeks, Stoneman Douglas students ignited a nationwide youth movement #NeverAgain to speak out against gun violence, encouraging participation in the March 24, 2018 March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. and cities around the world. The result: Their generation, Generation Z, has elevated its position in our American psyche, shifting older generations’ views of them from “entitled” or “lazy” to now a generation of doers, thought leaders, and change-makers.

These youth elevated their image in several simple yet powerful ways:

Determination. The Parkland students were determined to give voice to an issue that has plagued our country for decades. They succeeded in setting themselves apart in the March for Our Lives and changing how others saw their generation.

Inclusion. Students, teachers, administrators, parents, and the general public were invited to participate in the March for Our Lives. Just two weeks after the Parkland shooting, students from Chicago were invited to Parkland to share their experiences. Two days before the March, Parkland students met with students from Thurgood Marshall Academy in Washington, D.C., to discuss their experiences with gun violence.

Organization. What the Parkland students were able to accomplish in just five short weeks is incredible. Students accepted full responsibility for getting their tasks done, and they achieved them.

Eloquence. The memorable presentation by Emma Gonzalez, and her powerful use of silence, has people talking about how she may become Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. Emma and other Parkland students appeared on the national platform for the first time in their lives. Each student spoke with such deep emotion, compassion, and eloquence.

Positive Messaging. Filled with passion and emotion, students’ messages remained positive, clear and consistent throughout the speaker program as well as media interviews. Presenters focused on telling their own stories with insight and great maturity.

All of that hard work created a new statistic: The March 24, 2018 March for Our Lives represents the largest youth demonstration since the Vietnam War (reminder: that was more than a half century ago).

When asked by a reporter “What’s next?,” without hesitation, Stoneman Douglas high school student David Hogg quickly and succinctly outlined what those specific next steps are:

* Reach out to eligible youth across the country, encouraging them to register to vote, and then vote in the next election.

* Host Town Hall meetings in every Congressional District across the country, inviting sitting Congressional representatives to meet and discuss gun legislation.

* Encourage participation in an April 20 nationwide student walkout, the anniversary of the Columbine shootings.

* March on all State Capitols and meet with elected officials.

The level of planning and organization of these high school students is truly remarkable.

One final observation: Kudos to MSNBC, who devoted an entire 24-hour news cycle to live coverage of the March for Our Lives. Top MSNBC news anchors shared the role of anchoring throughout the day, inserting live interviews in Washington, D.C. and in cities around the country. What also impressed me was MSNBC’s dedication to including a diverse group of reporters, including a number of young reporters. I especially appreciated that MSNBC did not repeat the same story multiple times; rather, they provided fresh interviews throughout the day.

Th poster that I carried (seen above) during the Saturday, March 24, 2018 March for Our Lives in Cleveland, Ohio (one of hundreds of participating cities) represents a clear message: Focus on today’s youth because they have a voice that needs to be heard, they rallied others to participate in this march, and they deserve our support and recognition.

The March for Our Lives was truly an historic event, one that we will be talking about for years – and generations – to come. For anyone who wonders what the future will be like for the next generations, the message is emphatically clear: They are in good hands.

Consider Protocol Before Communicating

social-media-integrationWith dozens of communication methods available to us today, it’s necessary to consider the protocol. As information generators and consumers, we have many more options for getting our voices heard, our opinions shared, and our thoughts expressed.

Beyond the more traditional forms of communication, like face-to-face, telephone, and written, we now have other, more creative communication forms available to us. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, SnapChat, Instagram, and Pinterest, to name a few, offer us ways to communicate our message to hundreds or thousands of followers. Each form of communication follows certain protocol.

Before you speak it or push Send, ask yourself an important question, “If I were on the receiving end of this message, how would I like to receive it?” Here are a few examples:

Let’s start with a big one. Firing someone. What’s the best method of communication when you have to let someone go? Face to face, of course. Why? Difficult as it may be, it’s personal. Sharing this news in person allows the recipient to process the information, ask questions if needed, and receive any other instructions. People who dislike sharing bad news often resort to an electronic medium because they think it’s easier or more efficient. Could you imagine receiving this news via e-mail, text, or worse yet, Twitter? Don’t do it. It will label you as heartless, cold, and unprofessional.

Sharing personal opinions. Countless stories about employees “behaving badly” through electronic communication have made the national news, like the new employee who complained about her boss on Facebook, or the employer who discovered inappropriate employees’ posts on Twitter. It’s difficult to retract a public message. Scrutinize every post by asking the question, “Is this appropriate?” If a “no” or “probably not” crosses your mind, resist the temptation to rant or do something you may regret. It could cost you your job. Instead, say nothing and punch a pillow. Just don’t kick the cat.

Sharing confidential news. The most discreet form of communication is face-to-face, live and in person. Runner-up is a real time telephone call (make sure you are not on speaker phone). These types of conversations usually begin with “I wanted you to be among the first to know that…” “…I am being promoted to…” “…you are being promoted to…” “…I have just accepted a position at the XYZ Company, and I would like you to join me as…” And so it goes. This type of conversation is worthy of face-to-face communication. When that is not available to you, then phone is an appropriate alternative. What’s most important is the real time connection.

Confirming or rescheduling an appointment. Whoever you are meeting, wherever you are meeting, reconfirm your appointment a day or two in advance. Also, make sure you have the person’s mobile phone number in your address book. It comes in handy if you get lost, are running late, or need to reschedule. If you do need to reschedule, and it’s the day of a meeting, call or text. Ask for confirmation. Do not send an e-mail. If the person you are meeting is on the road or in a meeting, calling and texting are the quickest forms of communication for any last-minute changes. Nothing is worse than sitting, waiting for an appointment, only to receive the message, “Didn’t you receive my e-mail? I’m slammed today so I need to reschedule.”

Being overly efficient. I have heard this complaint many times in my communication workshops. Team members who work in the same building, on the same floor, schedule a conference call. Really? You can’t walk 30 steps to meet face-to-face? Sometimes we work so hard at being efficient, we become inefficient. A short face-to-face meeting allows you to reconnect with team members, and even get messy with flip charts and markers if you need to. That whole kinesthetic experience is lost because you were trying to be too efficient.

Within your organization or your work team, openly share appropriate communication methods for specific tasks. Discuss what’s appropriate and what’s not, and how those behaviors can impact your relationships with major stakeholders.

When the Student is Ready, the Teacher Appears…and Reappears

Photo credit: Fischer Twins for unsplash.com

Photo credit: Fischer Twins for unsplash.com

It was the title of the article that first captured my attention more than 30 years ago as a budding, young professional:

Work Hard; Love People; Be A Professional

Then, the first sentence, in all capital letters, begins: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A PERFECT JOB.

The article, written by Elinor J. Wilson, then Director of the Colgate University Bookstore and sitting President (1985-86) of the National Association of College Stores, appeared in The College Store Journal.

The same article title that caught my attention all those years ago stood out the other day, as I purged old paper files and organized my office. Asking myself the all-important question as I touched each memory, “Does it stay or does it go?,” the answer was an emphatic “Stay!” The fading copy is carefully and meticulously highlighted in yellow, with specific words and phrases then underlined in red.

That first paragraph continues with, “In any position, you will find some duties which, if they are not unpleasant immediately, eventually will be. Success depends not merely on how well you do things you enjoy, but how conscientiously you perform those duties you don’t enjoy.” Reread this last sentence. What refreshing honesty. These words of wisdom could be incorporated easily into new employee orientation or onboarding programs.

Wilson outlines several specific, simple rules to better one’s chance for success:

• Have ambition

• Learn everything you can about your work

• Broaden your horizons

• Set your goals high

• Learn self-discipline and self-reliance

• Communicate effectively; put your ideas into clear language

• Be thorough; cover every side of a question; follow every lead

• Set a definite goal for yourself

She adds, “Before you know it, you may find the ladder of success stretching out below you instead of rising ominously in front of you.” She emphasizes how important it is to Keep (maintain action by care and labor) Doing (deeds of interest and excitement). The true professional is in constant motion, continuously improving, and including others in important decisions.

One of my favorite sections of the article, though, is a discussion about time.

“If you had a bank that credited your account each morning with $86,400, that carried over no balance from day to day, and allowed you to keep no cash in your account, and every evening cancelled whatever part of the amount you had failed to use during the day, what would you do? Draw out every cent, of course!

“Well, you have such a bank, and its name is time. Every morning it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it rules off, as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to good purpose. It carries over no balance. It allows no overdrafts.

“Each day it opens a new account with you. Each night it burns the records of the day. If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours. There is no going back. There is no drawing against the tomorrow. You must live in the present, on today’s deposits. Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness, and success.

“The secret for controlling time is that there is always enough time to do what is really important. The difficulty is knowing what is really important.”

Wilson encourages the reader to focus on professional development, hard work, dedication, and resourcefulness. “Be a giver to life instead of just a receiver,” she adds.

She ends the article with one simple sentence: “The light of leadership shines only because of the spark offered by each individual.”

Wilson’s words of wisdom are as relevant today as they were when she wrote them more than three decades ago. I hope they resonate within you as they continue to do within me. There is so much more that we can do to contribute and create positive change in our workplaces, our communities, and in the world. Keep doing. Work hard. Love people. Be a professional.

To Build Client Relationships, All You Need Is Love

love-is-all-you-needHow much love are you giving to your clients? How do you show them that you care?

While some people focus more on romantic love on Valentine’s Day — showing affection through flowers, candy, or a romantic dinner — it’s the more universal meaning of love that reminds us that we can do  more to meet the needs of our clients. The Oxford Dictionaries defines love as “an intense feeling of deep affection” or “a person or thing that one loves.”

One of the most iconic songs about love, All You Need Is Love, written by John Lennon, sung by the Beatles, and released in July, 1967 shares a message that is just as relevant today as it was back then.

If you were to show your clients (internal and external) how you love and care about them, what would that look like? How would you show them that you care? Here are some simple tips to help you give more love to your clients:

Get personal. In all relationships, whether business or personal, we learn about each other by sharing information about our lives, not just our business experience. Learn about your client’s personal life, hobbies, interests, family, charitable causes, life goals, greatest challenges, and triumphs. The more you know, the deeper your relationship can become.

Acknowledge that you enjoy working with them. All too often, we rely on implicit rather than explicit communication, which can keep people guessing. If you love working with a client, tell that client exactly how you feel. “I enjoyed working with you on this project because we brought our individual strengths to the process. I look forward to working on our next project.”

Keep in touch. It’s easy to get busy working on other things, yet it’s so simple to pick up the phone, send a quick email or text to check in with your clients. Your thoughtfulness will go a long way to deepen your relationship.

Get in the habit of asking. We often forget to ask the much-needed question: “What else can I do to help you?” This will get your client thinking beyond today, and planning for the future. If your client hasn’t thought about this, your question will get the ideation process moving.

Show your appreciation. Your client could go to someone else for services, yet you were the person who was chosen for the project. Send your client a note of appreciation that says “I value you as a client.”

Have fun. The best working relationships that show love in action are those where people feel comfortable with each other and bring more of their authentic selves to the relationship. They have fun. My favorite clients are the ones who share that mutual feeling…I love working with and being with them, and they feel the same way about me.

As you look at your relationships with your clients, answer these questions:

What are you doing to make your clients feel more connected to you?

How can you show your love to your clients?

Don’t just express your appreciation one day each year. Show your clients how much you value them throughout the year.