Listen Like a Jedi Master!
Written by Andrew Hinkle, Director of Consulting – Sage Marketing
Listen Like a Jedi Master!
After watching Star Wars: The Last Jedi (personally ranked #3 in the series), I started thinking about what Jedi skill would be the greatest benefit to financial advisors.
Wielding a lightsaber? Moving objects with your mind? Appearing as an apparition to help others?
Okay, so none of those are based in reality (yet). But, we can all benefit from enhancing one sense to the level of a Jedi. Listening!
Like the Jedi, active or effective listening is extremely rare. According to a PR Daily study, only 2% of people have any formal training or education on how to listen effectively.1 As a Padowan you are probably asking what is active listening?
The International Coaching Federation (the Jedi Council of the coaching world) defines active or effective listening as the ability to focus completely on what the client is saying and is not saying, to understand the meaning of what is said in the context of the client’s desires and to support client self-expression.2
Let’s translate that to the language of financial advisors. I came across this description of active listening from Financial Services Jedi Master, Michael Kitces;
“The client or prospect feels as though he/she is being really heard and understood, with a genuine empathetic connection to the advisor. Communication is not simply about what is said verbally, or even what the body language suggests, but is a conversation that drives to the root issues and deeper feelings. The planner doesn’t even begin to formulate recommendations until the end of the process, and there are no preconceptions about what might be right; by the time solutions are discussed with the client, they are such a natural fit to the needs that were discussed that they seem to be the only natural course of action.”3
The skills needed to listen like a Jedi Master aren’t difficult, but will take continuous practice to change your current listening behavior. You must unlearn what you have learned.
First, be active or fully engaged in listening to your client. Clear your mind (you must) and environment of anything that would distract from devoting your full attention and senses to your client. That means putting down your cell phone, no interruptions from your staff and consciously focusing on being attentive to the client. Equally observe and intake how the client speaks and behaves as well as the words they use. This will allow you to better understand their motives and focus on what is truly important to them.
Second, remain neutral and free of judgement while you listen. Doing so will create an open and accepting environment which will provide your client the comfort to remain completely honest during the conversation.
Also remember to stop listening to respond. It’s okay for pauses and even silence. Remember, you are the listener and don’t have to carry the conversation. Ask the questions you need and give the client the freedom to answer. Also, you don’t need to have all the solutions at the end of the meeting. Clients will respect and appreciate that you take the time to listen and reflect before discussing next steps.
I’m asked by advisors all the time; how can I differentiate myself? In today’s highly competitive environment you can rise above others simply by becoming a better listener. Clients and prospects will value this quality simply because most people they interact with don’t possess this trait. You now have the knowledge and understanding of the skills it takes to listen like a Jedi Master. I would encourage you to begin your training and move into a galaxy far, far ahead of your competition. May the Force Be with You!
An Easy Way to Get New Clients or Lots of Hard Work?