Over the years I’ve learned a fair amount about looking at things from another persons viewpoint. This was an especially hard lesson for me, especially when I was in my late twenties and early thirties. At that point in my life my ideas were always correct and if you didn’t agree with me, there was always the door.
Today I know that there are many, many things that I can and do learn from others. I’ve also learned that in my business it’s always about what our clients want and has little if any about what I want. Every time I forget that (and occasionally I do) I get a learning experience that is often not very pleasant.
What I do know is that when I do a good job of listening, both the client and I will have an outcome that is far better than if I don’t. I’ve learned 5 things about listening over the past thirty plus years of working with customers and clients; some of them are:
The client is always right - That’s right, the customer is always right. If, and when the client is wrong, you will have an ex-client. It’s our job to help our clients make decisions that will make their lives better. If we don’t think the client is right, we have to respect their opinion and move on.
If the client doesn’t take a significant amount of my advice, we should part ways - We are in the advice business. If I get a client who doesn’t take any of the advice I give, it’s best for us to part ways. This is not an indictment of being right or wrong, it’s just that we aren’t meant to work together.
The client needs to stay in control of all plans and decisions - This is something I feel very strongly about. Too often we as advisors try to get clients to do things that they don’t want to do. It’s all about the client and we need to remember that at the end of the day the client needs to decide. At the same time, it’s important for our clients to make sure they stay in control. We just need to give them permission to do so. My silly little saying here is the client is the expert at what they want.
It’s our job to make the complicated simple - I’ve learned that clients will not take actions they don’t understand. In our business many of the options we suggest are complicated. It’s our job to communicate these options in an easily understood manner that values our clients and their views on different areas of their life. Part of making the complicated simple is reducing the amount of choice we present to a client. When we understand our clients needs we can help them navigate hundreds of options to just a few.
At the end of the day it’s all about respect - It’s an honor to work with the clients we have. For me, it’s very important to remember it’s all about respect and to make sure I speak and act in a respectful manner towards all the stakeholders in our business.
I’m curious as to what your rules are for working with others. Please feel free sending me an email at Jpatrick@stage2planning.com and let me know.
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