Recently, I took a call from a client whose world was about to turn upside down. The economy was not kind to her profession, her family situation was anything but ideal, and she was second-guessing a major business decision she had made months earlier. This gifted and emotionally strong woman needed encouragement and hope.
Every life has its seasons of uncertainty.
Those moments can give rise to illness, uncertainty, and confusion. Like you, I work hard to listen to our clients’ stories, understand their concerns, take the pulse of their emotions, and guide them to make decisions that are appropriate given their unique life circumstances.
And then the world tilts on its axis. The Russians test our nation’s resolve, the Chinese economy swoons, political upheaval returns, or, in my client’s situation, we find our lives gyrating in a way that would make a roller coaster blush. Through it all, when we do our work well, clients tend to hang in there with us, take our advice, and find some comfort in the conviction we offer. Most do, some do not. That’s the matrix in which we work.
Sometimes, we awaken into a wonderful moment to call clients and affirm the trust and resolve they have placed in us. Ken Blanchard of One Minute Manager fame taught us decades ago that the best way to motivate others is to acknowledge the work they do well rather than correcting mistakes. Saying “well done” is empowering and memorable.
Praise fuels the mind with confidence and infuses the soul with joy.
What if we called clients to support their decision to follow a recommendation we made? How would that feel? First, we generate a “touch” of positivity into a possible season of negativity. Sharing a “well done,” given from both heart and mind, is empowering. As an advisor, you affirm not your work, but theirs! Such affirmations become a tacit endorsement of decisions they have made. Encouragement is always welcome at those times when discouragement seems to reign.
On occasion, however, the call comes to us. And when it does, affirming client resolve can weld into the foundation of your relationship another bead of trust. People work with advisors they like, trust, and believe are smart. But trust must be constantly renewed both to sustain what is and grow what could be. When we say “Congratulations!” to a client, we enjoy a moment when the stars align, and life ultimately gets better.
Finally, when we affirm a client’s resolve to work through a tough personal or business issue, we affirm both the decision and the process used to arrive at a certain outcome. And, as anyone in an advisory role knows, the process often has a greater impact on the outcome than the decisions made along the way.
So, this week, call your clients and congratulate them for hanging in there with you, the process, and the decisions. Encourage them, thank them, and discover the power such affirmation creates. And when the call comes to you, listen thoughtfully, and validate the person in a way that will empower the next chapter of his or her life.