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How professionals can reduce stress and increase resilience: Part 2

Why constructing meaningful client relationships is critical to reducing stress and building resilience in the professional realm.

As a registered clinical psychologist and executive coach of holistic psychological wellness, Sleiman Abou-Hamdan has dedicated his career to helping professionals overcome the multifaceted challenges of their business – and life in general.

According to the Sydney-based psychologist, there are a range of evidence-based coaching and therapeutic models revolving around meaningful client relationship-building, which are geared towards actualising people’s full potential and enhancing their capabilities in leadership and peak performance.

Mr Abou-Hamdan stated that creating common ground, showing authenticity (and even vulnerability) and, chiefly, being present are the key components to a healthy relationship with clients.

One simple technique involves identifying common interests and leveraging them to build meaningful connections.

He explained: “They may be both interested in, let’s say football or soccer, or they may have similar aged children.”

“So focusing on those common interest will foster the relationship between the [professional]... and the client. Ideally, they want to develop themselves as a trusted adviser to the client, so this is one step in that objective, essentially.”

Share commonalities, authenticity and vulnerability

According to Mr Abou-Hamdan, finding common interests with clients, showing vulnerability and “being personal… real and authentic” is beneficial in business.

Building meaningful relationships can be a remedy for overcoming stress and building resilience, leading to professional and personal success.

One simple technique to building these relationships is to “show authenticity, express authenticity, be real and say, ‘Yeah, these are difficult times, and this is what we are going through’.”

Conversing “at a human level” and telling stories about what’s really happening in the industry, or within a business, can solidify bonds of trust with clients.

“[Or] tell some personal anecdotes or some case studies about how people are thriving through these challenges, or... some good case studies in terms of those positive stories,” Mr Abou-Hamdan added.

He continued: “If we are in the freeze reaction, we tend to protect ourselves and protect our deep thoughts and emotions, but that actually takes away from showing up as authentic and real to clients, and that diminishes the trust.”

“So it’s a case-by-case obviously, but as much as possible, showing that vulnerability will actually help you connect with clients at a deeper level.”

Lastly, Mr Abou-Hamdan explained that if a professional is locked in fight mode, it can be damaging to relationship-building.

Being locked in fight mode means a person is likely to be working tirelessly for long hours, constantly behaving perfectionistically and essentially overdoing it.

This “actually diminishes from their ability to care [and] to empathise with their clients”.

Mr Abou-Hamdan added: “It’s essentially the law of energy conservation. The more you invest in work, if that is at the extreme, your ability to connect and care and empathise with others – and actually have balance and self-awareness – diminishes”.

Being present

Further, underlying all of these processes, is the ability to practice presence. Particularly in order to “exercise your active listening”, be healthily engaged in business and secure repeat clients, which are the bread-and-butter of most successful business.

Mr Abou-Hamdan outlined a simple senses exercise to professionals in any industry.

“Every once in a while during the day, just check in. How present are you? Notice three things that you can see around you; notice three things that you can hear; notice three things that you can feel.”

He continued: “Grounding yourself with the ground, noticing your feet on the floor, body on the chair, air on your skin, clothes on your skin, to really be present… that is the foundation of resilience and leadership, being present.”

Resilience is a learned trait

Through his business, Holistic Psychology, Mr Abou-Hamdan hosts various workshops, conferences and keynote speeches – striving to answer this question for professionals and other clients – to ensure they have a healthy relationship within their business and to continue providing invaluable services to their clients.

The holistic psychologist believes that there is “no magic potion” that can lead to resilience and growth in any industry. Instead, Mr Abou-Hamdan asserted that professionals can thrive through conscious effort, to employ therapeutic techniques and support where necessary.

“Resilience is not a gene that we need to be born with,” he says.