Originally published on Advisor Perspectives
Don’t you wish you could peer into the mind of your prospects and see what they’re thinking?
Actually, you can. There are hundreds of peer-reviewed articles in psychology and neuroscience journals that shed light on how what we say impacts others.
Here’s a distillation: The more you talk, the more pain you inflict. The more your prospect speaks, the better they feel about themselves and about you.
A fundamental misunderstanding
When prospects meet with you, you may believe they’re interested in your advice about investing and financial planning. Often that’s true, but they are almost always looking for something quite different — an emotional connection.
This is where things go awry. You are trained to “present” and demonstrate your expertise. This approach is unlikely to create even modest engagement, much less an emotional connection. Here’s what will: listening, eliciting information and showing a genuine interest in the prospect.
Heed this wisdom from the French philosopher Simone Weil, “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.”
Relationship development expert AJ Harbinger put it even more starkly: “Listening is the currency of rapport, and the window into trust, connection, and mutual engagement. The quality of our conversations, our relationships, and our reputations all hinge on how well we can do this one simple activity.”
I’m deep into the research for my new self-help book, aptly titled Ask. It expands the research underlying The Solin Process℠ to all relationships. I’m struck by the consensus on the power of asking questions, and the failure of so many of us to engage in this practice in other than a perfunctory way, if at all.
I’ve trained myself to reflexively ask questions rather than making declarative statements. When I meet someone for the first time, I want to understand their story. Who are they? How did they get to their current position in life? What do they do for fun? What books do they read?
It’s fascinating how much people will share if you empower them to talk. It’s also surprising how grateful they will be to have found that rare person (you) who shows a genuine, authentic interest in them.
I benefit from this approach. I already know everything I can affirmatively state. By eliciting information from others, I will learn something and often be better for the experience.
In personal relationships, asking questions is extremely powerful. I challenged a coaching client to ask his wife this question: “Is there anything unspoken between us?” He looked stunned and then said, “If I asked her that, she would talk for hours.” I replied that, if so, that was reason enough to open a dialogue with her and not continue to stifle communication.
I created my process to help advisors convert more prospects into clients. I didn’t appreciate the applicability of this approach to deepening relationships in any context. The most gratifying feedback I receive is from clients who tell me using The Solin Process℠ has significantly improved their relationships with their spouse, children, friends, and colleagues at work, in addition to increasing their conversion rates.
It makes perfect sense. The brain doesn’t react differently depending on the context. When you empower others to talk about themselves their brain will be flooded with hormones that make them feel great.
Can you think of a better gift to give those you love?