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Don't Be Fooled by Communication Mirages

To be an effective communicator, be yourself rather than using entertainment-style techniques.

By Stephen Manallack

Many of us have created a mirage in our minds about what successful communication is. Because communication plays such a pivotal role in a thriving insurance and financial firm, it is important that advisors see through these mirages and move forward to improve communication.

Most of us have firm views on why some people are great communicators and, generally, why we are not so good. Each of the elements of this mirage can be exposed, helping you get on with the important task of communicating your way to greater success.

Here are some of the mirages we fool ourselves into believing:

Communication is for the stars.
“He or she is a born communicator,” we tell ourselves, while thinking that we are not communication stars. This is negative and false. Everyone can use communication to improve interpersonal relationships, and many financial advising clients are not looking for entertainment-style communication, but want a real and easily understood transfer of information. Most of the people we admire as good communicators have been through some form of training. If they have learned the art of communication, why can’t you?

Communication is all about instant results.
This mirage says that since my own communication skills do not give me the power to get what I want, they must have failed. In reality, all communication produces results. What is important is how you communicate, how you behave, how positive your thoughts are for others and so on. Rather than impressing clients with your wit or entertaining them with humor, the key for financial advisors is to get a complex message across in simple language. Also remember that the greatest results from communication are the intangibles, such as friendship, respect, intimacy and involvement.

Any new communication approach is better than the old one.
According to this mirage, to move from failure to success, we need a completely new approach to communication. This view suggests that the financial advising profession picks up fads at least as much as other sectors. In this ruthless quest for success, we can erode friendships, reduce trust and create an atmosphere of tension and competition. Improved communication is a gradual process. Take one step at a time on the path to better communication.

To communicate well, you must conform.
This is the yes-man mirage. We know that corporations where people are simply clones do not go far, and it is the same at a personal level. Differences are exciting; they make us strong as a group. From clients’ perspective, these differences can become their strongest rationale for choosing you as their advisor.

The Gallup Organization has researched how people communicate and found a range of positive characteristics that advisors can measure themselves against and try to adopt. Below is a list of traits many good communicators share.

Communication – You generally find it easy to put your thoughts into words, are a good conversationalist and would make a good presenter.

Empathy – You sense the feelings of other people by imagining yourself in others’ lives or others’ situations.

Harmony – You look for consensus. You don’t enjoy conflict, instead seeking areas of agreement.

Inclusiveness – You are accepting of others. You show awareness of those who feel left out, making an effort to include them.

Individualization – You are intrigued with the unique qualities of each person. You have a gift for figuring out how different people can work together productively.

Relater – You enjoy close relationships, finding deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.

Responsibility – You take psychological ownership of what you say and do. You are committed to stable values such as honesty and loyalty.

Wouldn’t it be good if everybody developed these characteristics? That way, you would be less likely to fall for the mirages and more likely to deliver a form of communication that your clients seek.

Stephen Manallack is a freelance financial communication consultant and author of You Can Communicate; PR Secrets for Personal Success. He can be contacted in Australia at 61 3 9827 9368 or via email at sm@labyrinth.net.au.

 


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