How to Work Well With Introverted Clients: Four Guidelines

Skittish. Cocooned. Loyal. Disciplined. Introverts are those who enjoy their own company and need time alone to recharge. They may or may not be shy, but they don’t talk for the sake of talking and aren’t at their best in a loud, crowded situation.

You’re more likely to describe introverts as interesting people than as exciting folks to be around. (To an introvert, that’s a compliment, rather than a put-down.) According to researchers, the percentage of introverts gets higher as you go up the income scale, so if you work with the affluent or with those in professions that attract quiet workers, you’re more likely to run into them. As clients, they may require special interpersonal measures – particularly if you yourself have backslapping, chatty, everyone’s-a-friend tendencies.

  1. Respect the Introvert’s Reserve

  2. Introverts understand the need for a handshake as a social greeting, but don’t go beyond that. They dislike social hugs, and even a casual hand on the shoulder may feel out of line to them if they regard you as a business associate. Personal comments, like compliments on what they’re wearing or guesses about the ethnic origin of their name, which might establish rapport with someone else, can feel intrusive to introverts. A jokey style that prods them to respond in kind starts off with them on the wrong foot.

    They appreciate it when you get down to business with a minimum of preliminaries. Allow them to talk without finishing their sentences for them or interrupting.

  3. Respect the Introvert’s Privacy

  4. Introverts do not relish the idea of others knowing personal information about them, unless it’s absolutely necessary. They’re the ones who come up “private” on caller ID, who have unlisted telephone numbers, who bring up the issue of confidentiality at the outset of a relationship. They may balk at writing a testimonial even when they’re extremely pleased with how you’ve helped them, because it exposes something about themselves.

    Don’t expect them to carry on business in a packed restaurant, where the waiter and people at neighboring tables can overhear. Without their permission, don’t disclose even innocuous facts about an introvert, such as the fact that you saw them last Wednesday or that they went to Cornell, to others. Reassure them that everything that goes on in your meetings stays within your four walls. If you set up a working lunch, choose a quiet place and reserve a table in a corner – or order in for your conference room.

  5. Deal With an Introvert One on One

  6. Introverts come out of their shells most easily with just one other person at a time. In a group, they fear looking stupid or feeling vulnerable. They appreciate having your full attention when face to face. Don’t allow telephone or walk-in interruptions, and don’t “unobtrusively” check your BlackBerry or your computer monitor. They notice.

    If you’re advising a pair of clients where one doesn’t say much, don’t presume silence means the quiet person has no questions or agrees with the talkative one. Draw out the introvert by asking for their input and waiting for them to gather their thoughts.

  7. Don’t Pressure an Introvert

  8. Introverts process information better on their own and may need time and space to make decisions. Expecting them to respond on the spot may get you nowhere. Impatience with their “what ifs” will backfire, big time.

    In a setting that suits them, introverts can be funny, creative, warm, congenial, productive and loyal. Create that setting for them, and you can enjoy doing business with them for years and years and years.

Copyright ?? 2010 Marcia Yudkin Creative Marketing Solutions

— A bookworm as a child, Marcia Yudkin grew up to discover she had a surprising talent for creative marketing. She’s the author of more than a dozen books, including 6 Steps to Free Publicity, now in its third edition, and Persuading People to Buy. She also mentors introverts so they discover their uniquely powerful branding and most comfortable marketing strategies. To learn more about the strengths and preferences of introverts, download her free: Marketing for Introverts Audio Manifesto

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