Use Their Name: 3 Ways to Create Personal Working Relationships with Business “Clients”

Use Their Name: 3 Ways to Create Personal Working Relationships with Business “Clients”

In a working relationship, who wants to be known as “the client”? Definitely not me.  Impersonal, industrial images arise when I hear this term; and, often, when I use “the client” it is to complain about something that is going wrong in our business relationship rather than to talk about the person or people involved.  Rarely is “client” positive.  If not negative, it is still impersonal and removes empathy and accountability from the equation when I talk about them.

So, then, if not client, what do we call them?  Try Markus, or Probowo, or Susanti!  As I use first (or last names) to describe the people we are coaching, training or consulting, in front of them or with my business colleagues, the impersonal “client” stigma drops away.  I’ve found it is more difficult to complain about someone, or some situation, when I’m using the person’s (or company’s) name.  Accountability rises as we take away the anonymity of “the client”.  This also helps with communication.

Here are 3 Ways that help me “Use Their Name”:

  1. Relate to Them as a Friend

Genuinely show interest in their life besides just towards the business at hand.  Find out what makes them tick, who their kids are, what their favorite sports team is.  Then, remember it.  Write it down.  Refer to your notes before the next time you speak, and ask them questions about things you know are important to them.

  1. Listen

I’ve found most people in the world are starved for someone to listen to them.  Really listen!  Lean in, focus, ask open-ended questions, let them finish their own sentences.  Help them feel that they are important as they really are.  Each person has the desire and need to know they are valuable.  By active listening, you are affirming their value.

  1. Say Thank You

Gratitude is so precious.  Look for ways to show genuine gratitude.  Let the person know that you see them and what they are doing.  Send a note, a text and email.  Call them in person.  Voice the thanks you feel when you feel it.  Do it now.  I’ve found if I wait, it rarely gets done.


These are three ways that help me stay on “Use Their Name” basis with those I work with and for, daily.  These tips actually work in all my relationships.


Question for Reflection:

Which way of relating comes most naturally to you?  What is one thing you could work on in your interactions with others that will move them from “the client” to a person/company with whom you “Use Their Name”? 


Selena Mahoney
Selena is co-owner of BME services. She has lived, taught and trained all over the world, and is a certified coach, speaker, and trainer for the John Maxwell Team.