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5 Tips to Get More Comfortable Talking to Clients

Sarah Putt, MA, OTR/L

Do you struggle when talking with your clients?

I feel like this is a skill that takes some practice and one that many students and practitioners struggle with especially when first starting out. 

To be honest, being a pretty shy person myself, I definitely had trouble talking with clients in the very beginning. I always worried about what I should say or how to respond to their questions. I thought they’d see right through me and see how nervous I was. 

But I vowed that this wasn’t going to get the best of me and I took initiative to get better at this skill.  

So what did I do?

I began with having a few questions prepared at the beginning of my sessions. That way I didn’t have to come up with something on the spot. 

Next, I knew that people like talking about themselves so I would always ask them about something that pertained to them. Whether it was how their weekend was or how their sports team was doing or even where their shirt was from, I would try to come up with something that they would be open to talk about. 

Then once they started talking, I sat back and listened, actively listened.  I asked follow up questions that were relevant and shared details and information that resonated with me. 

I also kept in mind that if they asked me a question and I didn’t know the answer, that it was okay. I was not expected to know everything, especially as a student or new grad. And if I didn’t know it, I could easily respond with, “That’s a great question, let me look into it and I’ll get back to you.”

And the biggest thing that helped me get better at talking with my clients was practice. I practiced everyday with each and every client. I also practiced when I was out in the community by striking up conversations with people while waiting in line at the grocery store or waiting to cross the street. Whenever I had the opportunity, I practiced making small talk with anyone who was willing.  

And I can honestly say that these strategies helped me. They helped me overcome some of my shyness. They helped me get more comfortable talking to clients. 

What about you? Do you struggle to talk with your clients? What strategies have you tried? Did they work?

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