How Coaching and Mentoring Can Improve Client Relationships

So you may wonder how coaching and mentoring can improve client relationships. Well, it can in a very significant way.

Mastering relationships is one of the core building blocks of personal mastery. In his brilliant book Mastery, Robert Greene talks about the need for us to observe others closely. We need to gather as much information as we can about them. Then we need to picture ourselves in their mind, their position. Only then, will we be able to build close relationships with them.

Daniel Goleman, the master of Emotional Intelligence talks about the need for us to also understand ourselves very well. This will enable us to manage our relationships more effectively.

What we learn about relationships we have often learnt by observing our parents. The latter may or may not be good role models. At the same time, we bring our own emotional issues or baggage to our interactions with others. Let us look at two examples:

A Black senior executive in a large company observes how his White colleagues often make sweeping statements about other Black managers to him! These statements create distrust and distance in his interactions with his White colleagues. Over the years he has worked very hard at trying to understand the perceptions of his White colleagues. He has been highly successful at controlling his own reactions at these times.

Other individuals may react emotionally in similar situations and become defensive or attacking. Either of these responses will affect the connection between them and their colleagues. In work environments where there are culturally diverse groups one needs to be cautious. It is so easy for something like this to explode into perceived racial issues. This executive has learnt to rather err in keeping quiet. Fiercely guarding his personal reputation has been the driving force in his responses.

An executive who happens to be a lawyer shared an incident from his earlier days in the corporate world. He had followed a cut throat and clinical approach with a colleague. He said at the time he was driven by his ego and the fact that he could have “annihilated” a business colleague with the facts. At the time my client was motivated by his need to show one-upmanship as opposed to finding a more conciliatory route.

Today, over fifteen years later, he deeply regrets having reacted like that. The damage has been done and he is living with the consequences of his behavior. His colleague has never forgotten what happened and has cut my client off, totally. There is no relationship: all because of my client’s arrogant, ego-driven attitude at the time.

Since then, my client has learnt about the importance of emotional intelligence through coaching and mentoring. He has learnt that relationships are more important than his ego need to win an argument. He has learnt to temper his reactions so that relationships remain intact.

It is easier to equip yourself to handle potentially tricky relationships than find yourself reacting emotionally in a challenging situation. Sour business relationships leave a definite mark on our lives for years to come, as we have just seen. They can also lead to career limiting situations!

So how can coaching and mentoring help improve relationships?

  • A coach will help you to understand yourself better. A coach will explore what drives your behaviour, your own values, beliefs, perceptions, etc. All of these have an impact on your interactions with others.
  • A coach will explore your approach at work: are you more task or results orientated? In this case clients could perceive you as being hard and unapproachable.
  • A coach will explore how effective you are at seeing situations from a client’s point of view as opposed to just your own. How accommodating will clients’ perceive you?
  • Coaching will identify how flexible you are in your interactions and how easily you can adapt.
  • Coaching will determine your natural style of handling conflict. It can equip you with better conflict handling skills that will help keep relationships intact.
  • Coaching can equip you to deal with your own defenses and to bring the best out in others.
  • Coaching will enable you to build strong rapport with your clients. It will explore your “back up” mode i.e. how you react when you are under stress or out of your comfort zone. It will equip you to develop more constructive ways to respond in stressful or demanding situations.

In all our interactions, we either create rapport or distance between ourselves and others. So the question you need to ask yourself is: How do clients’ feel when they walk away from interacting with you? Were you able to create a safe space for them to share how they truly feel?

Business coaching and mentoring can play a key role in equipping you to improve your relationships with clients.

Posted in Client retention.