The woman above is making the three mistakes. Can you guess what they are? If you cannot guess all three you are not alone. Many business professionals look at the woman and only notice her harsh facial features as a potential mistake. Yet, she is make three big mistakes that can cost clients.
- Lack of Smiling: Wearing a smile is your most valuable asset as a professional. A smile relaxes you and releases endorphins. A smile says welcome and puts your clients at ease. Nobody wants to do regular business with someone who is not perceived to be friendly. That being said, it’s uncomfortable to smile when you are surviving a bad day.
The good news is that research shows that smiling even when you are not happy will change your mood. So the next time you are upset, try smiling in a mirror at yourself for two minutes. If you are still upset after two minutes, make faces at yourself in the mirror too. Letting off steam by making the faces you want to make at your boss or difficult client will release that tension. Go ahead try it! I bet you are smiling now just thinking of making those faces.
It’s best to practice making a few faces in a restroom where you have privacy. Other clients who are waiting may not like what you are doing. If you have back-to-back clients after a stressful meeting, take a few deep breaths before putting a smile on for the next client. Deep breathing helps to refocus. As a bonus, deep breathing will release the tension in your throat. When you are stressed your voice rises in pitch. By releasing that tension with a few deep breaths, your voice will lower. Clients view professionals with lower voices as more authoritative.
- Turning Away from the Client: In the image above, the professional’s body is turned away from the client. This sends the message she is not fully focused on the client. He may not be conscious of her mistake at the time of the meeting. But afterwards he may be uncomfortable doing business with this person even if he cannot say why.
The easiest way to correct this problem is to face your clients fully. This means from the tip of your head to your feet. Make sure your client knows he has your full attention. Set aside everything else and do not check messages or allow unnecessary interruptions.
- Crossing Arms: One of the most common mistakes made by professionals is crossing arms. This stance sends the message that the professional is closed-off, disinterested, or annoyed. Clients will see it as aggressive.
Aside from the negative emotions crossing arms sends to your clients, it also changes your body’s chemical composition. One researcher showed that crossing arms for a few moments will increase cortisol which increases stress. It also decreases testosterone which decreases your sense of authority and well-being. So the next time you catch yourself crossing arms, move those arms to your hips. This is a pose of power and will decrease your cortisol. Everyone can benefit from a decrease in cortisol.
Sometimes it’s difficult to understand why clients choose to work with someone else. Other times, we know when a mistake has cost a client relationship. Check your body language during the workday. Correct these three body language mistakes and you will keep more clients.