The goal of any massage professional is to make their clients feel well cared for and even more importantly, that your services take into account their health and wellness in delivering this care. While the needs are clear, and your desire as a massage therapist may be to provide this care, we are sometimes ineffective at communicating this to our clients. As such, a massage is sometimes just a massage, rather than a therapeutic approach to whole-body wellness that includes both the physical and the mental relaxation benefits of massage.
And that’s why we got into this business in the first place, to provide extraordinary care to each of our clients.
Today, we’re going to talk about how we can use effective communication to better establish this intent, and to understand the needs and desires of each of our clients.
Focus on the Intake and Exit Interviews
Communication begins before the client ever receives a massage. During the intake interview you should do more listening than speaking, and take special care to ensure you fully understand the purpose of the visit as well as any problem areas that you should work on or avoid.
Upon completion of the massage, spend this time speaking casually to your client before they leave. Ask about what they enjoyed, what they’d like to try next time (if anything), and if there was anything that was uncomfortable or that they’d prefer to avoid during the next session. Use their feedback to craft a more personal massage experience for them, and continually try to improve upon their previous session.
Mind Your Body Language
It’s often the things we aren’t saying that are telling the entire story. Crossing your arms creates a barrier to listening. Eyes that are dancing around the room rather than making comfortable eye contact with the client give the impression that the client is boring you, or that you have something else on your mind.
Avoid anything that can be perceived as a barrier to good communication. Sit or stand comfortably, and in a relaxed but not slouched posture. Maintain comfortable (not overpowering) eye contact, and even mirror the movements of your customer from time to time, such as a head nod or a smile.
Remain Receptive to Non-Verbal Cues
Some clients are quite anxious and even stressed about the idea of their first massage, or switching to a new therapist. By watching and listening intently, you can often pick up on verbal and non-verbal cues that might not necessarily match the words that they are saying. These cues give you the option to suggest additional services, or to understand points of discomfort both physically and mentally.
Avoiding interruption from others, as well as you interrupting the client is crucial to making a client feel as if you have their full attention. Even if you’re sure of what they’re about to say, let them finish. If the information is wrong, you can correct them upon completion of what they’re saying. Interrupting a client makes it seem as if you are hurrying them, and they may not feel they’re getting the care they deserve.
Repeat What You’ve Heard
This is crucial. After listening to the client when they describe what they’re looking for, be sure to summarize and repeat it back to them. This gives them a chance to further elaborate, or ensure that you correctly understand what they’re looking for. It’s also a great chance for you to mention additional services that may suit their needs.
Respond Appropriately, Respectfully, and Professionally
No matter how rude or disrespectful, you must remain professional around your clients at all times. Whether they are talking down about another therapist, their family members, or their boss, you are not there to take sides, but instead to provide a service and remain professional at all times. It’s your job to listen, but you should never take part in unprofessional conversations, and instead you can focus their energy on the massage while these concerns melt away.
As a massage therapist, it’s our job to understand our client’s needs, wants and desire and learn how we can use this knowledge to provide better service. Keep this in mind when communicating with new and existing clients to provide the best care.