Originally published on Advisor Perspectives
What could be easier than asking questions and showing a genuine interest in others? That was my thinking when I formulated The Solin Process℠, based on hundreds of psychological and neuroscience studies.
Boy, was I wrong.
The inability to engage with others in a sensitive, natural way is the biggest obstacle to successfully implementing my process.
I assumed others shared my background and personality traits. I’m trained as a trial lawyer. Asking questions comes naturally to me.
I’m also an introvert. When I figured out I could navigate social and business situations with ease, by asking genuine questions, the impact was immediate and transformational.
My premise was that others would have the same experience.
I’ve taught The Solin Process℠ to thousands of advisors in the U.S., Canada and Australia. The response to learning about it has been heartening. In the aggregate, hundreds of millions of dollars of assets has been captured using my process.
Feedback from advisors has also been gratifying.
But I’ve encountered unexpected setbacks. I found that asking questions geared to getting to know someone, without steering the conversation in any particular direction, is more challenging for some than I anticipated.
Based on this reality, I’ve done additional research, which I want to share with you.
The art of asking questions
Learning how to ask questions is critically important in all walks of life. In his excellent book, Just Listen, Mark Goulston MD made this cogent observation:
The more you try to convince people that you’re brilliant or charming or talented, the more they’re likely to consider you boring or self-centered. That’s especially true if you step on their stories in a rush to work in your own.
Goulston and I are in full agreement of the goal, but getting there is more complex. Just how do you ask questions in a sincere way?
The first step is to be genuinely interested in what the other person is saying. If so, you will be able to concentrate on what’s being said, rather than formulating your response.
My favorite follow-up is, “Tell me more about that.” Goulston suggests others, like, “What do you like best about it and why is that important to you?”
These questions empower the other person to elaborate and demonstrate your interest in what they are saying.
When the other person provides additional information, Goulston has this advice: Shut up. Listen. Listen some more…ask another question that proves you heard (and care about) what the person said.
Ask yourself this question, “When did someone demonstrate that level of interest in me?”
For most of us, the answer is never.
And that’s my point. The advisors who have most successfully implemented The Solin Process℠ are often the only ones who have never shown a genuine interest in what that person is saying.
It’s not surprising their conversion rates have increased significantly.