When we think about a wedding client’s experience, we often consider strong communication habits, surprise and delight opportunities, and other ways to put a smile on their faces. Yet, there’s a lot more going on under the surface of the average client’s experience. For all of the smiles and laughs you may see, planning a wedding comes with a ton of emotions attached. Couples see their big day as a high-stakes project in many directions: financially, socially, and mentally. Naturally, things get weird when you get engaged!
As a wedding professional, it’s important to recognize that human behavior dictates much of what our clients experience. We must observe our clients to identify their emotions and understand why they feel a certain way and how you can help. When you focus on client psychology, you will begin to learn how to address specific behavior patterns and defense mechanisms with tact. For example, you’ll know that approaching someone who is in denial looks different from someone who is projecting their emotions.
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Understanding is only the first step to better serving your clients, though. The magic happens when you put your knowledge into practice. While emotional involvement will look different for everyone, these tips will help you to better connect with your clients and provide the support they need while planning their wedding—even if they haven’t asked for it.
Determine your emotional style.
Everyone navigates their own emotions differently and, as such, are prone to responding to others’ emotions in the same way they handle them internally. Some people are highly sensitive feelers, which may spill over onto their clients. Others may prefer to keep people at arm’s length, which can build walls with their clients. Much like your strengths and weaknesses in life, understanding where you stand in terms of your emotional intelligence and style will help you to be more intentional about caring for your clients’ feelings.
Fortunately, when it comes to expanding your emotional intelligence, practice makes perfect. For example, if you’re the type to establish firm boundaries and remove yourself from emotional situations, you may consider creating spaces in your client experience to deepen the relationship. Perhaps you schedule an additional tasting just to get to know them better and let them share more details about their lives. Or, if you’re on the other side of the emotional spectrum, you might need to work on harnessing your emotions so you have them fully under control.
It all starts with self-awareness, so take some time to look inside and assess your ability to understand your own emotions and navigate them with ease. Then, you’ll be in a better position to read other people and find ways to comfort and support them during tough times.
Approach clients with empathy.
Empathy is a powerful way to let your clients know that they’re never alone. This is not to be confused with sympathy, which is when you can understand what someone else is experiencing. Instead, empathy is when you genuinely feel what the other person is feeling in the moment. Where a sympathetic person might pat someone on the back and tell them to look on the bright side, an empathetic person will sit down next to them and live the experience with them.
When you practice empathy and truly understand your clients’ emotions, you learn to take things less personally. If someone is frustrated because they want a refund on a non-refundable deposit, you can approach them with empathy and understand that they are having an emotional response. It’s not that they hate you or think your work is unworthy; they just need a moment to gather themselves. However, this does not mean you have to oblige their requests. You can still say “no” while remaining empathetic to their experience.
Some people are inclined to empathy, which adds to the client experience, but it’s essential to learn that we cannot take on all of our clients’ emotions—even if you identify as an empath. It might be a natural response, but it’s one you need to fight to avoid burning out from carrying too much emotional baggage. Learn to ask for space and show your clients that you’re human. Vulnerability is not a sign of weakness; instead, it develops deeper relationships and gives people permission to be vulnerable with you.
Practice emotional intelligence.
As with all things in life, navigating your own and other people’s emotions comes with experience. Be intentional about identifying emotional situations in real life and put your learning into practice. When you get coffee with your sibling, be an active listener as they tell you about the challenges they’re facing in their career. Tune into your friend’s body language as they share their latest dating mishaps. Watch your mom’s behavior as she vents about her neighbor.
When you practice emotional intelligence in different contexts, you can apply it seamlessly into your professional relationships and effectively enhance the client experience.
None of this is to say we should step into the role of therapist or counselor for our clients. We absolutely shouldn’t—we’re not trained and it’s just not in our job description. However, taking the time to listen to your clients’ issues and relating to them on a human level will show them they have a partner on the journey. In many cases, that’s all they need to overcome emotional objections, so show up as their cheerleader and the one person who will back them up from day one all the way down the aisle.