Are you a people person? Whether you have top-notch social skills or you’re more of an introvert, take a look at what new electricians need to know about customers and effective communication.
Is Communication a Natural or Learned Skill?
Some people are naturally social. They enjoy talking to others and easily communicate with almost anyone.
What happens if you aren’t one of the lucky soon-to-be electricians who are completely comfortable communicating with your customers? Even though some electricians are naturally social or extroverts, communication is a skill you can learn. If you don’t trust your own communication skills or have a low level of confidence in this type of ability:
- Ask a mentor. A training instructor, internship supervisor, or another professional mentor can help you to learn or develop the communication skills you’ll need as a new electrician. This person can help you to understand the skills you’ll need and explain how they communicate at work.
- Practice with a trusted friend or family member. The more you communicate, the more confident you’ll feel with your ability. Role-play an on-the-job scenario with a close friend or family member to improve your work-related communication skills.
- Practice by yourself. Continue communication practice when you’re alone. Even though you won’t have the benefit of the other person’s responses, you can practice speech and language skills.
Don’t worry if it takes time to develop effective communication skills. The more you communicate or engage with others, the more comfortable you’ll feel communicating with your customers. Think of communication development as a process — and not an immediate skill you can learn overnight.
How Should New Electricians Handle Challenging Communication Scenarios?
Whether you’re a natural communicator or not, it’s not always easy to handle an unhappy, angry, or generally difficult client. While customer contact typically includes pleasantly professional communication, some clients may pose more of a challenge. A confused customer or someone who doesn’t agree with your professional assessment may feel difficult to deal with.
Even though your normal communication methods may not work with a disgruntled or difficult customer, you can take steps to smooth the situation:
- Leave jargon out. While watts and amps are words you use regularly, most customers won’t know or understand electrical terms. This type if industry jargon can confuse your clients. Eliminate this type of communication frustration and skip the jargon.
- Take a breath. You’ve tried to explain the job in easy-to-understand terms. But the customer is still frustrated — and so are you. Stop and take a breath before you continue with the conversation. This gives you a moment to reset and gather your composure in a professional way.
- Ask your supervisor. As a new electrician, you’re still building professional skills. If you aren’t sure how to handle a difficult customer, talk to your supervisor. They can provide tips or they may want to deal with the situation themselves.
The ability to effectively talk to an irritated customer isn’t the only piece to the professional communication puzzle. You also need to learn how to listen. Sometimes what you don’t say is just as important as what you do. When you take a moment to breathe, use the time to stop and listen to the customer.
Why is Listening Important?
The ability to listen is essential to effective communication as an electrician — or as any other professional. This skill is crucial to your customer interactions for several reasons, including:
- You need to know what your customer wants. You’re not a mind reader. Active listening is necessary to fully understand what the customer expects.
- You want the customer to feel heard. This can make the customer feel important — especially if they’re confused or unsure of the repairs/replacements you recommend.
- You need to build relationships. Your customers will appreciate your ability to actively listen to them. This helps to build professional relationships and can lead to repeat clients or referrals.
Active listening also helps to build trust. A customer who feels heard is typically more likely to trust the professional opinions of their electrician.
Are you ready to start your electrical career? Contact the IEC Greater Cincinnati for more information.