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Communicating your expertise in solving your prospect’s problems seems like an important step in gaining their trust. But if you communicate in the wrong way, you’re much more likely to destroy trust than create it.

I’m working hard to put the finishing touches on my next book, Ask: Be Liked. Be Better. A collateral benefit has been how the extensive research I’ve done has heightened my sensitivity to my own interactions. I wanted to share a recent experience that showed how expertise in problem solving was the downfall in an important client relationship.

A lawyer talks… and talks

I’ve been both a lawyer and a financial advisor, so I have some perspective on this story. In both professions, I was compensated for providing advice. It was understandable for me to believe those who came to me were interested in what I had to say.

A friend who is a CEO of a private company called to complain about his lawyer, who was negotiating an important commercial lease. He told me he, “just couldn’t communicate” with the lawyer, and asked if I could act as the liaison. I agreed to call the lawyer. My friend sent him an e-mail introducing us as friends, and noting that I was previously an attorney.