These days, it is not uncommon for communication professionals to experience being “ghosted.” However, when it is a client it not only hinders work moving forward but can cause you to doubt your abilities. In extreme cases, it can also put you at risk of non-payment. If a client goes radio silent, it is important to approach the situation with tact, understanding, and strategy. Let's delve into what you can do when the lines of communication break down.
1. Give Them Space, but Not Too Much
It's natural to want to check in immediately if a client stops communicating. While it's good to be proactive, it's also essential to strike a balance.
Tip: Wait for a reasonable time, say 48 hours, before sending a gentle reminder or follow-up email. It shows you respect their time and space but are still keen on maintaining the relationship.
2. Always Keep Records
Document every interaction, agreement, or decision made with the client. This way, if communication breaks down, you can always refer to your records to remind them of where you last left off or to validate any concerns they might have.
Tip: Consider using project management tools or CRM platforms. They can help keep things organized and timestamp interactions.
3. Open the Lines of Communication
Instead of speculating, try to establish open communication. Ask open-ended questions to understand if there were any issues or concerns that led to the silence.
Tip: A simple message like, “I noticed we haven't been in touch recently. Is there anything I can assist with or any feedback you’d like to share?” can work wonders.
4. Evaluate Your Position
When a client stops communicating, take a moment to assess the situation:
- Review the Contract: See what agreements are in place regarding work continuation or payment in case of communication lapses.
- Consider the Workload: If you’re halfway through a project and the communication stops, decide if it's viable to continue the work. Sometimes, it might be best to pause until you get a clearer direction.
5. Proactive Prevention
While you can't always predict communication breakdowns, some strategies can help minimize their occurrence:
- Set Clear Expectations: At the outset of a relationship or project, discuss and agree upon communication expectations. How often will you check in? What's the preferred mode of communication?
- Regular Updates: Periodically update clients on progress, especially if it's a long-term project. It keeps them in the loop and minimizes surprises.
- Feedback Loops: Encourage clients to provide feedback regularly. It ensures that both parties are aligned and can address any concerns promptly.
6. Know When to Move On
While it's tough, sometimes it's best to accept that a client might not be a good fit. If there's a consistent pattern of communication breakdowns or if the client becomes unresponsive for an extended period, it might be time to professionally part ways.
Silence doesn't always signify a problem. Clients can become busy, face unforeseen challenges, or even have personal issues that temporarily take them off the grid. The key is to be understanding, strategic, and proactive in your approach. Remember, effective communication isn't just about talking—it's also about listening and understanding. So, when silence emerges, let your actions speak with empathy and professionalism.
Have you ever been ghosted? How did you handle it? Drop a comment below or tap in on social media, #solopr!