A Noisy Barrier to Communication
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It’s difficult to put your ego aside and focus on the other person. I confront this every day. But sometimes I fall into a vicious trap that advisors, as well, must avoid.
My practice is similar to yours. Clients pay for my advice. I have an expertise – called “asymmetrical knowledge” – which is valuable. Like you, I believe those who pay me are interested in what I have to say.
But this is a fundamental misunderstanding.
Our clients have one, overriding interest. They want to know whether we can help solve their problem. Here’s an example:
Assume you have an expertise that is rare: You are able to recite in order numbers starting with “1” and going to “500.” A client enters your office. After briefly discussing your background, you proceed to demonstrate your unique ability. It takes you about 10 minutes to complete this exercise.
While you are demonstrating your expertise, you feel great. You’re the expert and you’re in charge. Everything is going smoothly.
Then the prospect says, “I’m only interested in number 20.”
If you had known that fact, you could have dazzled the prospect with your knowledge of number 20. Instead, you spent almost all your time discussing numbers of no interest.
When you meet with prospects, don’t fall into this trap. There is only one way to determine with 100% accuracy what’s on their mind: Ask them.
Here’s what I do to overcome my tendency to assume I know what my clients want to discuss.
Prospects typically call me because they have been to one of my webpages (either my coaching or digital marketing one). They have seen something that interests them and want to schedule a coaching session. In one recent example, an advisor contacted me and said she was interested specifically in my presentation coaching offering. We scheduled a session for the following week.
I started the session by asking, “Tell me what you would like to talk about today?” She told me she wanted to focus on how to convert more prospects into clients. I asked her if something had occurred between our initial call and this call. She said she just learned she failed to convert a large prospect she was “90% confident” would become a client. She wanted to shift the focus of our session.
Imagine what would have happened if I just launched into my presentation coaching mode and never asked what was on her mind.
Because we know more about our niche area than those who consult with us, it’s easy for us to assume we know the best way to conduct the meeting.
Often, we don’t.
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A noisy problem
Our ego may prevent us from setting aside our agenda and addressing the issues confronting others. So how do you “quiet your ego?”
Psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman defines ego as, “that aspect of the self that has the incessant need to see itself in a positive light.” Most of us need to quiet our ego. This means being attentive to others, without trying to achieve anything. When you have a “quiet ego,” you can be genuinely empathetic, compassionate and helpful.
The benefits of quieting your ego make it well worth the effort.
According to Kaufman, having a “quiet ego” relates positively to high self-esteem, healthy coping strategies and personal growth. It’s also associated with, “humility, spiritual growth, flexible thinking, open-minded thinking, the ability to savor everyday experiences, life satisfaction, risk-taking, and the feeling that life is meaningful.”
The first step is asking questions and listening intensely to the responses.
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