Setting the Tone from the Top
It has taken me a long time to realize that it is up to me to set the tone. I was recently at a conference and the energy from the crowd was truly amazing. I’d never seen so many people enthusiastic and pretty much saying that this was the greatest conference ever. (Which if you’ve ever sat in a large bland hotel ballroom, in uncomfortable seats, and intense air conditioning you know is quite an accomplishment.)
I am generally a reserved person. I look before I leap. I observe more than I participate. I do intense research before I make decisions. I’m to-the-point and direct. I don’t really know how to be super effusive. And I am cautious. I have a hard time not being very honest and factual. This all serves me in many ways - but it has also kept me blind to how I am setting the tone in my business.
Because as I sat in those seats, sandwiched between other conference attendees, I listened to the speakers set the tone. They said things like, the energy in here is amazing, this is the best crowd ever, you will be transformed. Fairly typical conference motivational stuff. Things I would probably not naturally say. But it was said with authenticity and enthusiasm and the room believed it and by believing it became true.
So my problem has been I don’t want to make promises I can’t keep or guarantee. I don’t want to say something that may not be true or verifiable. But I realized at this conference especially and in the weeks since, that by making these statements - by saying them with genuineness they do end up coming true. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Sometimes you have to leap before you look.
Setting the Tone in Your Business
So what does this all have to do with you?
If you are the leader, the CEO, the authority, it is up to you to set the tone. It starts with you. Many times your clients will unknowingly look to you to know how to act. But, I hear and see from interior designers all the time a lack of confidence. It’s one of the greatest plagues in our industry right now. With the lack of self-assurance and uncertainty that is the tone you are setting.
So you need to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, if you want enthusiasm you have to make sure you model that for your clients. Imagine that you have the orange sofa delivered and your client calls you worried that it is too orange. Your response here sets the tone for how this is going to go.
By being encouraging and enthusiastic you can help put your client’s fears at ease. They are looking to you to know how to respond and to give them reassurance. It’s even more powerful if you can set their expectations before the delivery - “Remember this is going to be a big change from your current furniture and it could take your eye a bit to get used to the new look. But you’re going to love it!”
The key to this is to set the tone with authority and genuineness.
Setting the Tone Tips
You have to maintain your professionalism for your clients to trust you to lead them. You can’t set the tone from the bottom or a place of doubt.
Clients should be hiring you because you are the expert. As the authority it is important to be grounded and maintain composure in the face of all challenges. You’re the captain of the ship.
People are drawn to positivity and enthusiasm. You’ll have to determine what the right amount is for you and your clients because not everyone responds to the same levels. One thing you can do is mirror your client and maybe give it a notch more than they display.
Clients won’t have confidence in you if you don’t have confidence in yourself.