As the novel coronavirus wreaks havoc on markets and our personal lives, clients are looking for leadership from their financial advisors.
“We are currently in a very uncertain time, for us and for our clients,” says Sara Gilbert, business strategist, mindset coach and founder of Strategist Business Development.
“At the same time, it’s an opportunity for leadership: to step up, rise up, and become the leader that our clients need us to be.”
In order to be effective leaders and communicators, advisors must adapt their messages to clients’ emotional states. It’s not always what you are trying to say, but the way you say it, that will get results, she says in the video above.
Cients’ personalities and life experiences will impact how they receive a message, and different clients require different forms of communication.
“The strategy, the action, or the solution that I am going to present is the same thing. The way that I will present it will differ depending on the person that is in front of me,” says Gilbert.
Using the Abraham-Hicks Emotional Guidance Scale, Gilbert explains that clients need to be in the correct emotional state before they can accept any advice. In times of crisis, people are often at the lower end of this scale.
If a client is fearful or feeling powerless and you meet them with positivity, it is likely that your communication will fail. The gap between the two emotions is too large, so the client won’t hear your communication or recommendations, she says.
In this situation, the advisor’s role is to reduce the gap and bring clients up on the emotional scale.
“It doesn’t mean to go meet them where they are, in despair or powerless, because that is not where a trusted advisor resides,” she says. “We want to reduce a bit to bring them upwards on the emotional scale.”
One way to do that is by reminding clients of previous situations where they may have felt a similar level of despair: Sept. 11, 2001, for example, or the 2008 financial crisis. Then walk them through the reaction and the results that followed.
The goal is to get clients to a point where they can say, “‘I remember: that’s what we did, this is how I gained from it, yes there is hope in there,'” Gilbert says.
“And we can slowly but surely bring them into a positive expectation, a positive belief.”
The more you bring them up the scale, the more they see that with every crisis comes opportunity, Gilbert says. And then, you can begin to discuss opportunities in the marketplace, she says.
Watch the whole video, above. The transcript is below.
Hi, this is Sara Gilbert, business strategist and mindset coach.
Welcome to today’s webinar — exclusive for Investment Executive and their investment advisors — on how to manage clients’ emotions in times of crisis. We are in a very particular time and our clients need a leader more than ever.
So, without further ado, let’s start today’s webinar.
Welcome to the webinar. Today we are going to talk about how to manage our clients’ emotions in times of crisis. We are currently in a very uncertain time for our clients. And at the same time, it’s an opportunity for leadership. To step up, rise up, and become the leader that our clients need us to be.
Right now, what we’re seeing is really the ingredients for the perfect storm. What are the two ingredients for the perfect storm? First of all, it’s something that is new. Nobody has seen a market downturn and a pandemic at the same time. And the second ingredient for the perfect storm is uncertainty. Nobody knows exactly what is going to happen. These are the two ingredients that are needed to create a crisis. At the same time, now more than ever, we need to manage our clients’ emotions and embody the leader they are looking for.
In times of crisis, people are looking for leadership. People are looking to somebody to turn to, somebody to guide them through it, and somebody who will give them a direction that they are going to take. My goal in this webinar is to give some tools to help you embody this leader that they are looking for. What we are really going to talk to is the power of your words. The words that you use, they change the way we think, they change the way we communicate, and they change the way that we serve our clients.
So, what exactly is the power of your words?
It’s really a communication tool. It’s a tool in your toolbox as the trusted advisor. You want to become that person. The power of your words is really the language used by the most important leaders. And you’ll make the parallel between what I’m sharing with you today with what you’re seeing with some of the greatest leaders out there. It’s the language that reduces resistance and enhances the agreement to a message. It’s the language that gets people to take action, to make their own decision. It’s not about manipulating, it’s really helping people make their own decisions so they can reach their goal.
It’s how to pay attention to “how” people speak, not just the words that they use. You see, when you pay attention to the way someone structures their sentences, the words that they use, the tense of the verbs that they use, they are really opening the door for their entire belief system — their entire thinking patterns. Our role now is to pay attention to that. Once we pay attention to that, they share everything with us. Really, the power of your words helps us understand what is unsaid by our clients, potential clients, and members of our team. This reveals their dreams, their desires, their aspirations, and their fears. Which then allows us to enter their world, communicate in the way that helps them to take action, on our recommondentations, our suggestions, so they can reach their goal. At the end of the day, our role as a trusted advisor, as a trusted professional, is to help our clients reach their goal.
I’ll take a minute just to introduce myself. My name is Sara Gilbert, I am a business strategist and mindset coach. I am the founder of Strategist Business Development, where I help advisors and entrepreneurs build and grow their businesses. The reality is, I am an entrepreneur like you. So I am living the same thing you are right now: Managing my clients’ emotions, and helping my clients manage their clients’ emotions. So I am a strategist. I help entrepreneurs with their mindset, their operational efficiency, and obviously their marketing and business development initiatives. Because this is an opportunity for you to rise up to the occasion and position yourself as the trusted professional that the clients should deal with.
I am also a geek of human behaviour. This is why I have always been fascinated by how do humans behave, why do they behave that way and how we can influence that to help them reach their goal, their potential, their deepest aspirations.
So, why the power of the words? It’s all about influence. Influence is this capacity that we have to have an effect on somebody’s character, on somebody’s behaviour. For me, influence is to always give the best of yourself. It’s to be the leader and leave your mark with the people that we get to interact with.
My commitment to you today is first, we are going to talk about how communication works. Beyond the words that we use, what are the mechanisms, what are the patterns, that influence that. Second, the internal dialogue. How the inner chatter influences all of our behaviour and results. Then we will go into the external dialogue. The words to use to influence with integrity.
So let’s begin with how does communication work. Abraham-Hicks gave us the scale of emotions. We are all on this scale in emotion. Right now, in times of crisis, people are at the lowest on this scale. We need to understand that we are all on this scale, at one point or another. The scale is an upward spiral in terms of positive emotion, and a downward spiral in negative emotion. So, when things get good, they get better. But when things get bad, they tend to get worse. That all goes with that scale of emotions.
Let me give you a concrete example. If your client is feeling fearful, or they are feeling powerless or despair because of the economy, because they don’t know what is going to happen. Some of them are losing their jobs, some of them are afraid of losing their job. They’re in an emotional state. If we come and talk to them with the optimism scale and say, yes but there is opportunity here and that is what we are going to look at, look at the bright side. The gap is too big in terms of our emotions that our communications won’t… They won’t hear our communication. Our message won’t go through because the gap is too big. So our role is to reduce the gap. What we want is actually to reduce our spot on the emotional scale, our emotional state. It doesn’t mean to go meet them where they are, in despair or powerless, because that is not where a trusted advisor resides. We want to reduce a bit to bring them upwards on the emotional scale.
So perhaps we want to bring them to the doubt level. How do we do that, we compare with things that we have done in the past. We’ve lived through something similar in 911 where we didn’t know what was happening. This is what we did, these are the results that we had. Remember in 2008, this is what we did, and this is how we reacted. So bring them hope to bring them up in the emotional scale and we reduce the gap. As our clients are coming up on the emotional scale, we want to bring them continuously up. So from doubt, we want to bring them in hopeful, because they know that the last time, or the last times, that we lived through something similar to this, there were opportunities. I remember, that’s what we did, this is how I gained from it, yes there is hope in there, and we can slowly but surely bring them into a positive expectation, a positive belief where we can now have conversation of, there are opportunities in the marketplace.
Every crisis, there are winners and losers. My role as your advisor is to discover and seek out those opportunities. It’s like when the tech bubble burst. Some people turned out to be millionaires from that, and some people came out broke. My role as your advisor is to seek out those opportunities. But if the scale of emotion is too far, the communication won’t be there. So managing our clients’ expectations is understanding this scale of emotion and bringing our clients up slowly, but surely, up the ladder of the positive scale. We have all had conversations where there were different versions of the conversation. There is a conflict there. Or a conversation where, no I don’t remember you telling me that. We have all had these. Or, we’re telling something to a client but the message doesn’t seem to come through. Or, we have a different point of view of what did actually happen.
Let’s understand that there are three sides to every story. There is my version, your version, and what really happened. There are three things that influence a message, beyond the words that we use, there are three things that influence a message: The brain, life experiences, and personality.
Let’s start with what happens in the brain. One of the things that the brain does is it transforms a message one of three ways. When a brain hears something, one thing that it can do is an omission, which means that it will actually emphasize certain aspects of the message that you are trying to convey and it will delete the rest. Truth be told, the brain can only handle five (plus or minus two) pieces of information at the time. If you are talking to me for an hour, I’m going to get only certain aspects of the message that you are trying to convey.
The second way that the brain is going to transform a message is that it will do a generalization. When we were little we understood that with a door, I have to push or pull on that thing and then it opens. I didn’t have to do it 325 times. By number five, usually when the brain sees five examples of something, it actually starts making a generalization. That is also something else that the brain will do to transform a message.
The third thing that it will do is it will actually create a distortion. It will create an imaginary future. So these are three ways that the brain will actually transform the message. So, what does this mean for us, as their trusted advisor, their trusted professional? I always end my conversations asking one question to see what happened. What are your takeaways from our conversation today? From there, I am able to measure what happened in the brain of the client in front of me. I will do this in a one-on-one meeting, I will do this in phone meetings, it doesn’t matter what the medium is. I will go and test and see how their brain transformed the message, and readjust when necessary. I often readjust, because what they selected and what I want to leave them with, it may not be exactly the same. This goes with understanding how the brain transforms a message.
The second way a message will be transformed is by somebody’s life experiences. For the brain, something real or something imagined is the same thing, it doesn’t make the distinction. If the brain starts making scenarios because that’s what the brain does, then the person won’t see the difference. So, as we see everything that is going on in the media, as we’re hearing all the news and especially people who live or feed off news, there’s this imaginary life experience that is being created in their brain.
The second thing in terms of life experiences that will come and influence the perception filter is the law of average. So we are the average of the people around us. If the client is surrounded by people who live in fear, your client will live in fear. If your client is surrounded by people who are hopeful, who see that there are opportunities in here, they will believe that there is hope and they will seek out the opportunities. So our role is to understand who surrounds my client, because no matter what I say, they are the average of the people around them. If my client is surrounded by fear, my role is to go and influence that filter of perception they have of the people around them.
Another thing that will happen in terms of life experience is fear towards change. In terms of behaviour, there are really three fears that people have, consciously or unconsciously, to make any change. The first is the fear of loss. The fear that I will follow your recommendation, your suggestion, and I will lose something. And sometimes that something is my comfort zone. Even if it’s not the best thing, the brain’s job fundamentally is to stay in its comfort zone. That’s because it’s job is to keep us alive, and to keep us alive the brain wants to keep us in its comfort zone. The fear of loss, sometimes it’s just losing something that I know.
The second fear towards change is the fear of process. The fear that the process will be complicated.
The third fear is the fear of the status quo. The fear that I will follow your recommendation, I will do what you ask me to do, but nothing will change. Again, what does this mean for us, it means that we need to address those fears. Sometimes these fears are conscious, but very often they are unconscious. Our role is to show them what they will win, what they will gain. Our role is to show them that the process will be easy, it will be simple. Our role is to show them that life will be different after our solution. After they say yes or they accept our solution that we are offering.
And then, personality. We all have our little quirks or our little personality and this greatly influences how we behave. There are two behavioural patterns I want to share with you today. There are more, obviously, but there are two that I want to share with you.
The first one is there are people who are going towards. People who want to move towards pleasure, who are seeking out to reach a goal. And there are people who are moving-away people. What they want is less pain, they are seeking to move away from a problem. Now, if I am listening to my client and hear them say I want to be richer and make money, I want to seek out opportunity, this is probably a going-towards person. But we have clients who don’t want money problems, they don’t want to lose money, these are moving-away people.
The strategy, the action, the solution that I am going to present is the same thing. The way that I will present it will differ depending on the person that is in front of me. If the client in front of me is a going-towards person, they are seeking out the goal, my role as the advisor, my goal as their trusted professional, is to speak that language. I will use sentences like, you will have more free time, more of this, you will get closer to this — whatever that goal is. It will be simpler.
Now, if the client in front of me is a moving-away person, I will want to use a moving away language. No more of this, no more of that, you will have less of this, less of that. It will be less complicated. We understand that it will be simpler and it’s going to be less complicated. It’s the same thing. But the way that I am positioning the message is to speak in the pattern of the person who is in front of me.
The second behavioural pattern I want to share with you is the point of reference. Some people have an internal point of reference, some people have an external point of reference. I like to use the example of IKEA, we have all gone to IKEA and we have all put together furniture from IKEA, and we always have leftover screws. Now, the person who has an internal point of reference will say, I am right, the explanations are wrong. The person who has the external point of reference will say they are right, I did something wrong. You see the difference?
So again, in our communication we want to adapt our language to their point of reference. So if I am talking to a client who has an internal point of reference, that they must confirm themselves, they want to make the decisions themselves, they rely on their experiences — on what they feel, what they think — to make their decisions, then I will use language accordingly. This is your decision, I suggest you think about it. Here’s more information for you, what do you think.
On the other hand, if I have a client who has an external point of reference, they like to have the opinions of others. They rely on what other people think. So then I want to take a language that actually is in their pattern. The idea was approved by, the experts say, I highly recommend, studies show. If I have a client who is in front of me who has an external point of reference and I speak to them and say what do you think? I am not embodying that role of a leader that they are looking for. Our role is to understand what is their point of reference and how do I adapt my language to their point of reference.
There are more patterns in terms of behavioural patterns that I share in my course, The Power of Your Words, but these are two that you can implement right now with your clients right now that will have a huge impact on how you communicate and how you are able to influence their behaviour.
In terms of how does the communication look, today what we’ve looked at is what influences a message. First, we talked about how the brain influences the message. There are three ways that the brain transforms a message. Two, the person’s life experiences. We are filled with filters of perception. There are fears that actually stop us from taking action. And, the personality. We talked about two of the behavioural patterns.
Here is my question to you: Find examples of a situation where you did an omission, generalization, or distortion. Once you understand how you did it, how you felt about it and how you reacted to it, you will be able to help somebody else. You see, you can’t give something that you don’t have, so test it on yourself first. Which three fears (loss, process, status quo) is holding you back right now or held you back in the past. This is how you will be able to connect with your client, understand what they are going through. And then figure out, are you more of a going towards person or a moving away person. In business, I am a very moving towards person. There are other in my life that I am a moving away person but in business I am a moving towards person. Before understanding behavioural patterns, I found it so hard to communicate and help people who tend to be more moving away, because it was hard for me to talk with them. When I started understanding the behavioural pattern, I was able to change my language to enter their world and from there I am able to help them. But first I need to understand, what is my pattern? How do I behave? And from there, I can make a difference.
Let’s move on to the inner dialogue. So understanding ourselves to better understand others. We all have that little voice in our head that analyzes everything in our lives. Our circumstances, the people that we meet, it’s that little voice that just never stops. Inner dialogue and self criticism are two of the most destructive behaviours that we have. Negative language is four times more energy intensive and draining than positive language. Some studies even suggest six times more energy intensive. We pay ten times more attention to bad news than good news.
This is the brain doing its job. The job of the brain is to look for a threat, to look because there might be a threat, maybe there will be a sabertooth tiger coming out from the next building. That’s really how the brain works. Just to give you an idea, in terms of the media, we usually have a ratio of 17:1, meaning 17 bad news to one good news. I can tell you nowadays, it’s probably 823:1. It just gives you an idea how everyone’s inner dialogue is actually going on a negative spin right now.
Joe Dispenza showed us that 95% of all of our behaviour by the time we’re 35 years old, are memorized. We’ve done them so many times that our body knows it more than our brain does. For example, if I ask you your password for your computer, chances are you won’t be able to tell me. But if I sit you in front of your computer, your fingers will just go at it. That is body memory at its best. This is where resides our beliefs, our emotions, our habits, our values, our intuition, our long term memory. If I keep on telling myself I am so busy, that is what is being memorized. If I keep on saying it’s hard being an entrepreneur, it’s hard being an advisor doing these times. It’s a challenging time for an advisor. If that is what I am repeating, that is what I am embodying. The reality is, we create our world with our internal dialogue because our brain will always be seeking what our internal dialogue is focusing on.
We know that our beliefs (whether they are limiting or empowering) influence our behaviours (to take action or not take action) which will influence our results (am I going to reach my goals, or not). Now, I personally believe that now is an opportunity for leadership. I have that belief, which means that I am taking action and I am leveraging and I am finding solutions and I am finding ways to help people, meaning that I will reach my goal. I will be the one that gets out of this crisis as a leader. Some people believe that this is the end of the world, so they are not taking action and their business won’t be flourishing. They won’t position themself as a leader right now.
What we’ve noticed, what they were able to demonstrate with the study of the brain, neuroplasticity and neuroscience, is when we understand the power of the words that we use, the language, we’re able to influence our beliefs, our behaviours and our results. Understanding what the language that you use.
Cornell University demonstrated that self-aware learners perform better. Conscious leaders, the ones who take the time to acknowledge what is my internal dialogue, they are more authentic and more transparent. They are more committed and productive with their teams. They have better relationships with their teams, and they generate better financial results.
The reality is, we are so in it, that we don’t notice it. There is an expression that I love that says, you can’t read the label from inside the jar. Right now is the time to step out of the jar and become self aware.
Here is my question for you: What is the story you keep on telling yourself?
We all have a story that we are telling ourselves, consciously or unconsciously. When we start asking what the story is, this is where I can actually change that story, change that inner chatter, and change my beliefs, my behaviours, and my results.
Once I change my internal dialogue, my inner story, then I am able to generalize the positive and isolate the negative. You see, the brain’s job is to generalize the negative and isolate the positive. We have all had events or times of communication where we had great comments and we had one negative comment, and somehow we stuck on that one. That is just the brain doing it’s job, that’s it.
So now, when I uncover the story that I am telling myself, I am able to generalize the positive and isolate the negative. From there, bring context to that negative. I am not a loser, today in my conversation with that client, at that time, on that topic, I didn’t do that great. Or I didn’t get that prospect. We are able to put a context around it. I am not lazy because I only did two things on my infamous to-do list. Maybe today I needed to relax. Maybe today I need to do something else, maybe today I needed that mental space. Generalize the positive, isolate the negative, and put context around it.
This allows us to reframe. Reframing a situation, reframing a story, helps us to move the emotion around it. A great example that I want to bring to you is Thomas Edison who said, I didn’t fail. I only found 10,000 ways that did not work.
That’s it. So once I reframe a situation, I remove the emotion that is attached to it. At the end of the day, what we want to do is protect our mindset. If we are to step up and become the leader that our clients need us to be, we need to protect our mindset. Whatever story is going on up here, we need to acknowledge it, challenge it, change it, to be able to embody that leader that needs to step up right now.
One of the ways that we can do this is by our personal sayings. We all have personal sayings. Some people, their personal sayings are, I am so busy. So then they are just busy being busy. Other people, their personal sayings are, this is so hard, this is draining. Then, obviously, I won’t take action there.
Here are some of my personal sayings. One I use all the time is, there is a gift in there. Whenever something happens, I have this strong belief that there is a gift in there. My job is to find it. I’ll be transparent, sometimes the sentence is not really that there is a gift in there, sometimes it’s, where is that gift? But when I repeat it and repeat it, this is how we build resilience because I am getting back up much faster than somebody who stays focused and has negative personal sayings.
I say it so much that now in meetings, my clients will say, Sara the other day this and this happened, and we said what would Sara say? And we look for the gift. There is always a gift in there.
Another saying I use all the time is, it’s that simple. I strongly believe that life is simple. Humans tend to complicate things and then justify why their things are complicated. But I believe it’s that simple. So I often ask myself, what would it look like if this was simple. How would I do this if this was simple. And I offer solutions and strategies and ideas to my clients and say, it’s that simple. That’s it.
So, what are your personal sayings? Because that is what you are embodying.
Now, it’s your turn. In terms of the internal dialogue, we looked at a few things. How the words influence our behaviours. When we change our internal dialogue, we actually change our life. By reframing situations, we actually defuse the emotion, because at the end of the day we want to protect our mindset. That is how we have that mental space to really, instead of react, we act. By paying attention.
So what are the limiting words that you use on a regular basis? Do you say, oh this is so hard, or I am so busy? How is this limiting your behaviours? What is it stopping you from doing? And what words or expressions could you use instead?
You’ll see, it all starts from within. Once you start uncovering your own internal dialogue, you actually start changing your internal dialogue, and it’s going to change your behaviour. From there, you are going to notice other people’s internal dialogue. You are going to notice other people’s expressions and their sayings. You’ll be able to challenge that.
A few days ago I was talking with another coach who wants to make changes in her business and she is telling me all the reasons — also known as excuses — why she can’t do them. Interesting. So, the story you’re telling yourself is, you can’t do it. As she uncovered the story that she was telling herself, she was able to change that story, change the belief, and actually take action on what she really wants to do. That is the power of the inner dialogue. For you, for your own behavior, and for your clients.
From there, now we can start talking about external dialogue. To communicate, to influence with integrity. The reason I start with how does the communication work, and how does the language of your internal dialogue works. In my program I go deeper, but you get the concept.
Why do I start with these two? It’s something called the mirror neurons effect. If I show up in front of a client or on the phone and my inner dialogue is going 100 miles an hour, that is the emotion that I will be sharing with them. That is what I will be sending out. We have all had situations where somebody wanted to sell us so much on their product, their service, we could just feel it and it was just wrong. That is why you first need to consciously understand, in your own dialogue, what you are saying and the story you are telling yourself. Once you actually understand and change the story, you are going to be able to have mental space where then you are going to be able to notice and pick up on, oh, my client just did a generalization, or this client is a moving-towards or away. That is how you will be able to enter their world and communicate with that energy. Because at the end of the day, communication is all about a transfer of emotion. We need to be conscious of our own first. What are we telling ourselves, and what are we sending out?
We have all had conversations when the client knows what to do, but they don’t take action. They don’t follow our recommendation. Where a potential client doesn’t become a paying client, and the reality is, people prefer to do business with someone they like and trust. Even if this person has an inferior product or service, and even if they actually charge more.
We all know somebody in our field or industry that we say, this person doesn’t have the experience, the expertise, or the depth of knowledge that I have, but they have a bigger business. They have more clients. There is a gift in there, there is something that they understood that we didn’t. Even Carnegie Institute showed us that 85% of our financial success is due to our personality, our ability to communicate, to negotiate and to lead — our leadership. Only 15% comes for our technical knowledge.
Now, we are in a people business. So, the people who have less experience, less expertise than we have, but they have a bigger business, consciously or unconsciously they got that. There is a gift in there for us to understand, that people will do business with who they like and trust. Their ability to communicate. I know advisors who are super smart, they are extraordinarily smart, but their business isn’t growing because their focus is on the technical knowledge and not on the personality, the communication, and the leadership,.
Who is going to come out of this crisis as a winner? The leaders. The people who position themselves as the leader. How do we communicate and motivate people to take action? Let’s understand that 95% of our decisions as humans are based on emotions. Humans are wired to seek emotion. Clients are looking for peace of mind, safety, confidence, self actualization. The plan, the structure, the revenue, that is the vehicle to help them achieve that emotion, but what they are really seeking is to fulfill an emotion. Motion starts with emotion, all of the time.
The client is not saying, what do I think about Sara. They are saying, how do I feel about Sara. Do I feel that she is the person who can help me reach my goals? Is she the person who is going to help me reach another level of success, to be fulfilled, to feel secure. How do I feel about the person?
How do we do that as trusted professionals? Our role is to uncover, discover and focus on what I call the ultimate motivator. The ultimate motivator is the why behind everything. Our role is to go and uncover that, and focus our conversation on that. So, the client who is calling you because of the market, it’s not really the market that they are worried about. What their concern is can I retire in three years? Will I be able to send my kids to private school? Am I going to be able to do that trip around the world that I have been planning for the last 10 years.
Our role is to have what I call the second level of conversation. Talk about what is really going on, the real thing. I am curious Mr. Client. Yes, the market, but are you worried that you won’t be able to retire in three years? Is what is actually worrying you is that you won’t be able to send your kids to private school? Why is this important? What will it do for you, what will it bring you that you don’t already have? Uncover, discover the ultimate motivator.
Once our clients share with us their ultimate motivator. Their fears, their desires, their aspirations, their pain, they won’t want to go share that somewhere else. This is where we really position ourselves as the trusted professional. They are not going to want to share that somewhere else and our goal is to focus on that. Yes, the markets tanked, yes there is a pandemic, yes there is a lot of uncertainty, but you are still going to be able to retire in three years. This is what we are going to do.
This is how we position ourselves. But again, if I have my internal dialogue going at three hundred miles an hour, I can’t go into that second level of conversation. What I want for you now is really to position yourself by having those levels of conversations. As you are developing that skill, also develop storytelling. There are different types of stories we want to develop. The brain works in pictures and images, so when I share a story with someone, the brain makes an image.
There are three types of storytelling that we want to develop. First, personal stories. Like I told you, those are my sayings, there is a gift in there, it’s that simple. Those are personal stories. Second, we want to share stories of people like them. Like I told you, my clients who sit down at meetings and say, Sara will tell us there is a gift in there, I’m sharing with you that story. You can see yourself in that situation. When we understand how the brain works, we work with it. And the third part of storytelling to develop is analogies. These are comparisons. So when I talk about leadership or culture or team dynamics, I will often make the analogy of, our team is like a hockey team: Everyone has a position to play. If you don’t play your position — your role — we are not going to win. And everyone has a role to pay in this, there is no role that is more important than the other.
That is again how I am able to take the brain and give it a different point of reference. I used one before, compare what’s going on now, uncertainty, with 9/11. Right now we are like in the afternoon of 9/11, we didn’t know what was going to happen. But we rose up. This is what we did, this is what happened. It gives a point of reference for the person.
We want to speak with what I call words of the body. It’s a word I made up because that’s really what it means. Understand that 80% of the information goes from body to the brain. Only 20% of information goes from the brain to the body. Again, when I know how communication works, I work with it.
Let me give you an example. If I tell a client, I think this is what we need to do, virus I believe this is what we need to do. See how much more powerful that is. You feel it in your body. Let me be honest versus let me be sincere. I don’t know what is going to happen more than you, I don’t have a crystal ball, but I believe there are opportunities here. Speak with words of the body, this will have more impact in your communications.
Simon Sinek gave us a great way to look at it. He said, Martin Luther gave the “I have a dream” speech, not the “I have a plan” speech. I have a dream comes from the body, we embody it, we absorb it. I have a plan comes from the brain, from the rational. Motion starts with emotion, all of the time.
As we use these tools we want to develop the art of asking excellent questions. When I ask a question I get an answer. When I ask an excellent question, I get the truth.
When we ask the brain a question, it can’t do anything else but to find an answer to that question. Which is why asking excellent questions is so important. An excellent question causes the brain to consider a behaviour which increases probability. New York University shows us that just by asking people if they plan to buy a car within the next six months, increased their purchase rate by 35%. Asking an excellent question is like planting a seed in the brain of our clients. This is an art that we want to go and develop.
I said before, motion starts with emotion and 95% of our decisions are based on emotions. If a decision is based only on emotions, that’s where it causes buyers remorse. What we want to do is anchor this decision by logic. We want to anchor it with rational. What will this anchoring do, is the person, in their internal dialogue, that is how they will justify to themselves why they decided to take your recommendation, your suggestion. This is the language they will use to justify to others why they decided to take your suggestion and make a move with you. It’s by the logic aspect.
So a decision really has two key components: The emotion and the logic that anchors that decision. This is where we embody our role as the guide, as the trusted advisor. In business, we are a solution to a problem. Clients are living a situation and they have a desired state or outcome they are looking for, their ultimate motivator. From there, our role is to say, this is where we are, this is where you want to go, and these are the actions or steps that I propose. We are going to do this, then we are going to do step B, then we are going to take care of step C, and then we are going to be proactive on D. That is how I become the leader. I help show them the way. I show them the way and they know that they can trust me to go from where they are to where they want to go.
From there, I want to facilitate their decision making process. There are three channels where people absorb information. Some people are vision, some people are kinesthetic, and some people are auditory. Again, by myself calming my inner chatter, giving myself mental space to listen, people will tell me. I will have a client tell me look Sara, this is how I see things. Maybe this person is visual. Somebody else will tell me, listen Sara, this is how I see this.
They are telling us how to communicate with them. Somebody who is visual I will tell them, well look at this. I will say it, and I will show them graphs and pictures and diagrams. When somebody is more auditory, I will say listen, this is how I see it, this is what I propose. I will use the channel that they told me they want to use. All we need to do is listen. It’s that simple.
Obviously, these strategies are useless if we don’t develop exceptional listening skills. Universally, people want to be heard and understood. Human beings, people will take action when they feel understood, not when they understand us. Sharing knowledge, sharing rational information, sharing information versus communication, that is where the difference is. We want to demonstrate empathy, a desire, a sincere desire to understand.
Let me clarify one thing, there is a difference between empathy and sympathy. Empathy is I understand you. Sympathy is I am crying with you. Don’t fall into sympathy patterns. We can’t help our clients, we can’t be their pillar, if we are crying with them. So demonstrate empathy. Listening and developing exceptional listening skills is the most active thing that you can do. Again, it starts with us. What type of listening skills do you have? Are you looking to detect data, facts and details, or are you focused on the story that the person is trying to share and really to relate to them. Do you react to their emotion or are you stepping away from their emotion? What really grabs your attention? Do you have difficulties staying silent? Some people always compare yes, but I… And they want to fill in the blank all of the time. What type of listening do you do? Again, once you discover that, uncover that, then you can actually develop that skill.
So, here are the tools. Once we understand how the brain works, our internal dialogue, how do people behave, here are some tools or words that you could start using right now. Or, not using right now.
First, understand the word “but.” When I use the word but in a sentence, it actually breaks my sentence. So anything that is before the word but will actually be eliminated by the brain to focus on the second part. If I tell a client “I understand your concern, but…” then I just broke that whole part of the sentence in the brain of the person. We want to be careful of how we use the word but. I want to acknowledge their concern. We can’t judge somebody’s emotion. We can judge their behaviour and relationship to the emotion, but we need to accept and welcome the emotion. The word “but,” we want to use it intentionally. There are places where I want to say that, for example, I would want to say yes the market went down but in every time the market went down, we have seen opportunity. This is where we are focusing right now on finding these opportunities, discovering these opportunities. You see how I want to focus the conversation on the second part of my sentence.
In the beginning I told you to step away from “don’t worry,” because I want to bridge the gap. If I tell them “don’t worry” then I am telling them not to live the emotion that they have, which is worry. I can’t judge an emotion. So I don’t want to say that because I don’t want to tell them that the emotion they are living is wrong. We want to reduce the gap first. Second, the brain doesn’t know how to not do something. The brain actually removes the negative in sentences and focuses on the core. So when I am telling clients “don’t worry,” what I am really telling them is “worry.” We’ve all had kids who we tell them, don’t drop your glass of milk. Wait three seconds and usually the glass of milk is dropped because the brain does not know how to not do something. It has to do it and then undo it. So change the structure of your sentences to remove the negative.
One of the most powerful words in communication is together. Together shows empathy, together shows leadership. Together we will do this, together we will go through this. This is a powerful word that you want to start using in your communication. There are different ways, you can’t always say the word together but you can use parallel words that have the same emotion, such as “we” and “us.” These are words that give the emotion of togetherness. A leader brings people together, so use it intentionally. And use parallel words that have the same emotion.
In the external dialogue we talked about the mirror neuron effect. Whatever goes on in your internal dialogue, that is what is going to go out, so you want to tame your hamster to be able to communicate and influence. We talked about the importance of emotion in the decision making process. We talked about storytelling and the types of storytelling to develop. We talked about the power of the words that you use. Use words of body, and use words that have a leverage and have an impact. To develop the art of asking excellent questions and then embody your role as the guide, your role as the trusted professional, the trusted advisor.
So now it’s your turn. How could you discover, uncover and bring back your clients ultimate motivator in your conversations right now and talk about what is really important to them. What type of storytelling could you share, could you develop. What type of questions do you already ask and what type could you develop as well as tools in your toolbox.
As the brain loves processes, here is a framework that brings it all together. I like to use the FBI’s model. It’s the behavioural change stairway model and it’s the model that the FBI uses to negotiate with terrorists. Now, we aren’t negotiating with terrorists, but what we want to do is change the behaviour of our clients.
First, what do we want to do, our first step is active listening. When I listen, I know exactly what is going on in the head of my clients. I know exactly their pattern. From there, I can demonstrate empathy and show that I really care. From there, I can build a rapport because I’m going to start communicating the way that they communicate. Sharing information the way they communicate to understand. From there I am able to have influence and help them change their behaviour, even if that behaviour right now is to do nothing, that is also influence. Step by step by step, this is how we change the behaviour of our clients.
Reality is, we are entering this new era. This new era didn’t come with the market, this new era didn’t come with the pandemic. This new era started in 2019 and it changed fundamentally how we do business. Who is going to come out of this strong — who is going to come out of this as a leader — are the people who understand how the brain works, the role of emotions, and the behavioural patterns, because at the end of the day we are humans working with humans, serving humans. So we are entering a whole new era.
So, if I can recap the power of your words. First, it starts with you. Understanding your communication patterns and your communication schemes. Then from there, you are able to understand them. Their communication patterns. Once you enter their world, you are able to influence by adapting your language in order to have a maximum impact for that person and help them reach their goal.
As Gandhi said, “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” In a gentle way, you can have a tremendous impact and make a difference in the life of the clients. Understanding the power of your words is not a huge thing. It’s always tweaking, and it’s those milliliters and little tweaks adjusting all the time that makes a huge difference.
I hope you liked this webinar. I hope you don’t just take this as information but use it as transformation. It is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal.
For those who are interested, I do have on my website an ebook, a guidebook actually, with a framework that you can download. It’s completely free and it’s called the World Class Conversations Process. It’s how to captivate our clients, and how to keep them. This will give you more tools to help your clients and really step into this new era. Become the leader that your clients need you to be, because the world needs leaders right now. Become one right now.
So, thank you for spending this time with me. I know there are a gazillion things you could have done with your time, but thank you for spending time with me today. Take these tools, use these tools.