Successful communication with clients is key for virtual assistants. Although they are common in the workplace, misunderstandings can produce unnecessary delays, resource mishandling, and frustration in both clients and VAs. So, how can we as virtual assistants communicate successfully, efficiently, and meaningfully?
1. Avoid pronouns when writing emails.
Because our goal is to reduce the possibility of misinterpretation in an email, don’t use pronouns. Refer to objects, projects, and people by their names. It is an opportunity for the client to know what you have understood and, if there is some miscomprehension, it can be corrected promptly before it has any consequences.
2. Write follow-up emails after meetings or calls.
Meetings are very prone to miscommunication because we may think we understood what the client asked us to do and then reality shows that we didn’t –or vice versa. To reduce room for misunderstandings, write a follow-up email after the meeting. It might be boring, but –again– we want to give the client the opportunity to check that we got what they said and asked us to do.
3. Listen actively during a meeting or call.
You should be an active listener –a good listener– because it is very useful in the workplace and life. Listening actively means you should.
Don’t interrupt: Just pay attention; if you have a question, ask it later.
Give your interlocutor some clue that you are listening: nod your head, say “uh-huh”, “yes”, and “of course”.
Paraphrase what has been said: repeat with your own words what your interlocutor has just said to show your understanding. The key is to do it without being weird –it might be easier if you announce it: “Let me get this straight…”
If appropriate, ask questions: do it if/when you feel it is necessary to know details about something that has been said or hasn’t.