Using a person-centered approach to account management.
Before I began my career in advertising, I spent three years as a social worker with a young adult population. One of the central theories we used in our counseling was the person-centered approach, first developed by psychologist Carl Rogers as a therapeutic process. At its core, this approach was quite simple. All of the mental health and other services I provided were based on the unique needs, desires, and preferences of that person to aid in their personal growth and client-centered therapy.
I often think about the person-centered approach when working with my current clients and even my colleagues. In this increasingly digital world, the importance of human connections cannot be understated. To truly understand the client experience in any industry, treating each person as a unique individual with unconditional positive support is more crucial than ever.
How a person-centered approach builds trust with your clients.
This approach to psychotherapy is applicable in many areas of day-to-day life. Because it’s not limited to client and therapist interactions, this practice is beneficial for most working relationships. With clients, this might mean acknowledging how they prefer to communicate. Are they okay if you notify them of incremental costs via email? Or would they prefer you pick up the phone and call them?
Do they want lots of detail on each project’s status documents and calls, or do they prefer a quick, high-level summary? Do they want you to continually appease them by saying, “I know how busy you are,” or do they find that annoying?
Would they react positively to the occasional smiley face or exclamation mark in an email, or would that immediately diminish your professional credibility with them? Do they take cream in their coffee, or do they take it black? What are their kids’ names? Do they play sports? Or the trombone?
Details matter, and they help you build relationships with people – often people whom you might see in person only a few times a year, if that. I think this approach demonstrates that if you care about the small stuff, certainly you care about the big stuff (like the challenges their business is facing).
Other uses of a person-centered approach.
And not just clients deserve this person-centered approach. Your colleagues do too. Do they want reminders when their assignments are due? Or do they feel that if you remind them, you’re assuming that they cannot be held accountable for meeting deadlines?
Do they want you to track changes in their documents, or mark up their layouts? Or do they find this incredibly irritating? What’s their spouses name? Do they have pets? Why is it important that they leave early on Tuesdays?
Cultivating and preserving human connections and relationships takes work – years and years of work. It must be intentional. But people prefer working with people they like. I know I do. It’s one of my favorite things about my job: every day, I get to work with people I like.
And strong relationships, both internal and external, often yield even stronger work.
So how do you start doing this?
Don’t hide behind that email. Pick up the phone or walk down the hall and start a conversation. Because chances are that these conversations will develop. Soon, your simple person-centered approach will lead to more fulfilling working relationships. Go ahead, give it a try!