Communication

So You Think You Are A Good Communicator

So You Think You Are A Good Communicator?

How many people who call themselves “good communicators” use the below logic to justify their claims:

  • “I know how to read people”
  • “I know people like them, they all work the same”
  • “I’m good at reading body language”
  • “I know this stuff so well I can teach it to anyone”

Would you describe yourself as a good communicator? Research shows that you will naturally connect with only 30% of the clients you meet. That leaves the overwhelming majority of people in the category of needing to adjust your behavior to meet their needs. But, how do you do that?

  • Does your client need concrete examples (Information) or just the big picture (Goal-Setting)
  • Will they want to know what other people are doing (Lifestyle) or do they want research to support a decision (Information)
  • Do they need help and support to get comfortable so that it feels like the right decision (Stability Style) or do they just need the rational bullet points (Goal-Setting)

While it is entirely possible for some people to really connect and engage with anyone they meet, they are the definition of “few and far between.” This brings up the question of “Why?” Through the use of behavioral science, you can better understand the natural tendencies of your clients, which will allow you to be a proactive manager of your clients’ needs. The use of a behavioral tool has also been proven to show a return of 150 bps to your AUM (Source:The Advisors Alpha: Putting a Value on Your Value, Vanguard 2015). So, adding a tool to your resources gives you a new differentiator between you and your competitors.

If there is a proven method available to ensure you can connect with absolutely every type of person, why wouldn’t you use it? Behavioral Science can help you accomplish your goals by giving you easy tips on how to engage different styles by making small adjustments to tailor your communication with your clients and prospects. Having this tool can turn you into someone with the ability to communicate with anyone, regardless of whether it comes to you naturally, or not.

What’s your communication style?

Kill Me Its Another Meeting1

Kill Me It’s Another Meeting

Some meetings should never take place!! When the leader of the meeting has no control over them, they are a waste of time.

According to research from Harvard Business School and the London School of Economics, executives spend upwards of 18 hours per week – a third of their working week – in meetings. And with an estimated 25-50% of meeting time considered wasted. Source

11 million meetings are held in the United States each day on average. That adds up quickly to 55 million a week and 220 million a month. By the end of the year, the meeting total is well over a billion. Source: (accessed 4/18/15). – Dave Johnson, How Much do Useless Meetings Cost?, CBS MoneyWatch (February 16, 2012).

The most frustrating meetings are when the boss let’s those with the loudest voice have too much time. Even trying to shut them up (politely) just doesn’t work. Then there’s the person in the room whose whole body language says, I know best; no one else’s opinion matters’. What about the colleague who has plenty to say on the way to the meeting, and just sits there and says nothing in the meeting. Poorly run Meetings are an expensive waste of time

Kill me its another meeting2.jpgSource: Google images www.annmarieklotz.com

Howard is compliant, hesitant and diplomatic. He is well liked and respected among most of his team and peers. But when leading staff meetings, Howard fails to control difficult people who upset the balance of the meeting and leave most of the remainder of the team wishing they were somewhere else.

The discussions tend to be unbalanced and very little gets resolved or decide upon.

Phil is the CEO and on one occasion sits in on the team meeting. He senses the atmosphere has no healthy positive energy; it’s heavy and negative; people are frustrated and deflated. Nothing is agreed. Phil knows he needs to work with Howard to improve his leadership skills.

Phil is goal driven, ambitious and yet understands the impact of knowing how to communicate with a range of people. Phil appreciates the importance of getting results through people management and strong strategic leadership.

Using his own experience as an example, Phil talks to Howard about how he felt when leaving the meeting. He explained that Howard needed to change the dynamic of the meeting in order to ensure people didn’t leave feeling frustrated, deflated and lacking a sense of direction. Phil explained to Howard the relevance to his leadership style of understanding behaviors. Further, he talked about the significance of becoming more effective and efficient in terms of managing individual communication styles. He explained that leadership required a person to adapt their own behavioral style to build relationships and meet the performance needs of a specific situation and in this scenario to manage meetings more effectively.

Four Primary Communication Styles Graph

Communication Differences Relationship Performance

Had Howard understood the dynamics and communication styles in the room and gained insight into his own communication and behavioral approach, he would have known how to manage individuals and control the meeting. Phil used examples of how he should be communicated with to help Howard understand communication styles. He then contrasted that with how Howard would wish to be communicated with. Very quickly Howard realized that he needed to gain insight into understanding communication styles if his meetings were to be effective in the future.

Howard

  1. Allow a short time to discuss family, life and non-work issues upfront
  2. Communicate at a slower pace and do not make them feel pressured – keep it even
  3. Have office meetings in a more living room environment
  4. Show with empathy that you care about their well-being and desire the best outcome for them.
  5. Give them step-by-step instructions to avoid any feelings of chaos.
  6. Provide lower end estimates of returns and keep them diversified
  7. Communicate security and the safety buffers
  8. Ask them how much contact they would like with you and what type (email, phone etc.)
  9. Indicate your feelings about the recommendations and get them to discuss theirs
  10. Invite them to group workshops and demonstrate how solutions work

Phil

  1. No long stories, keep to the point
  2. Keep meeting agenda short and focused
  3. Prioritize objectives around their goals
  4. Start with the big picture, not too much detail on one part of it
  5. Lay out the options so a decision can be made
  6. Provide bullet points
  7. Clearly outline risk/reward from best and worst case scenario
  8. Ask for their thoughts on recommendations
  9. Ask how involved they want you in the planning process
  10. Recognize them with referrals to other influencers
2

How Do I Get People to Listen to Me?

Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?

1998 Rush Hour movie starring Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker

How many times have you been in a situation where you were trying to communicate with someone and it felt you might as well have been talking to the wall? I remember explaining a concept to a client using a PowerPoint and the client didn’t hear a word I said because he was focused on how he didn’t like the color scheme on the slide.

60% of communications fail because communication styles and preferences are not aligned. Based upon 1999 Stanford Research study.

Our brains are hard-wired to process information and learn a certain way. Most people accept this by now due to the volume of research on the topic. However, we can learn how to adapt to different communication styles to increase our effectiveness.

Sales increased 17% just by a salesperson mimicking the communication style of a potential customer. Harvard Business Review

Our research has identified that most people have one of 4 primary communication styles: Goal-Setting, Lifestyle, Stability and Information. There is a lot you can learn about people and how their brain processes information:

  • Learning Style
  • Communication Preferences
  • Information needs for Decision-making

Iceberg picture

With this knowledge, you can make some simple adjustments to how you approach a person to help them absorb the information, understand why your communicating and ensure they take away the points you feel are important (the ability to influence them.)

8 Simple Tips to Adapt Your Communication Style for Others:

If you are interacting with a Goal-Setter primary communication type:

1. Start with the End Goal in Mind – What is the purpose of the interaction and how does it connect to your audience’s goal (what’s in it for them?) Use bullets and executive summaries to convey more information with fewer words. Details can be provided after the summary if needed, but Goal-setters don’t read long emails/blogs or sit through long presentations.

2. Provide Options – If you only give them one recommendation or option, you will most likely get pushback or a “no.” They want to be able to make a choice. They will likely want to discuss it.

If you are interacting with a Lifestyle primary communication type:

3. Explain Who is Involved -Being more relationship-focused, their brains first have to understand who is involved, their role, how they fit into the discussion and what they may think about it. They also respond well to social events and informal communication methods.

4. Use Visuals – Rather than send a long email or written instructions use a picture, infographic or demo to better help their brains process the information and retain it. They need to experience it to learn.

If you are interacting with a Stability primary communication type:

5. How You Say It Matters – The right tone is especially important for this group. They prefer supportive and low-risk interactions and solutions. Email may not be the best choice, but if you do send an email, be very careful to consider them as a person and how they might perceive it or “feel” about it.

6. Slow Down and Reassure – They like to be thorough and appreciate step-by-step instructions. They want to be very comfortable and sure of their actions before they act.

If you are interacting with an Information primary communication type:

7. Stick to the facts – They prefer to primarily focus on tasks/results and do not necessarily want a lot of social interactions. They tend to be logical, want to “get to the truth,” and understand “why,” therefore, they are more comfortable when they have more details, information, and research.

8. Don’t Try Appealing to their Emotional Side – I repeat, stick to the facts, policies and procedures, and the logical explanation. If you try to sway them with name-dropping, leverage office politics, oversell a concept with marketing hype or appeal to their emotional side, you will actually repel them, not influence them.

What’s your communication style? For more information on the research, how it works, or how to apply this knowledge, contact inquiries@dnabehavior.com.

Difficult Conversations After a Confidence is Broken Batch 2

Difficult Conversations After a Confidence is Broken

Managing Difficult Conversations in the Workplace

The President of a company called together his senior executives and announced that the CEO had a heart attack. The CEO was hospitalized, but after surgery he was expected to make a full recovery. The President insisted on complete confidentiality until he had more information to share.

The President was a wise man. He was formal, systematic in all his dealings, good at analyzing information, a man of integrity, thoughtful and well respected.

His Head of Marketing left the meeting feeling confused, a sense of instability, emotional, and concerned. He immediately used social media to encourage all his friends to think about the CEO and believe for a fast recovery. The Head of Marketing was empathetic and warm. He was a person who needed stability and a calm, predictable working environment. He was very well liked, very good at his job and had a wide network of friends and business contacts.

Four Primary Communication Styles Graph

Directly after the meeting, the President received a call from the media asking for a comment; the company share price dropped 10%. The next call was from the Chairman insisting the source of the leak be found and fired.

The news of the CEO’s heart attack was now only 3 hours old; the potential fall out to the business (and the family) was significant.

The President recalled his executive team kept them standing and insisted the culprit own up immediately. The Head of Marketing owned up and the remainder of the team left the room.

The President immediately put the Head of Marketing on notice saying, “I instructed you to keep what I told you in confidence. That means you agree to keep the information completely, totally secret and not to repeat the information without permission.” He continued, becoming even more analytical in his communication, “asking someone to keep a confidence is a solemn contract. You broke it.”

The Head of Marketing tried, without success, to respond. The President left the room leaving the executive confused, bruised (metaphorically speaking) and devastated that he had acted so inappropriately. His first reaction to the news was driven by feelings and a loss of certainty about his future. He’d given no thought to the family or the consequences of such news reaching the marketplace.

Communication Differences Relationship Performance

The reality of the situation is that the President and Head of Marketing were operating from their natural zone and they did not have the awareness to adapt.

Had both parties understood their inherent communication and behavioral styles this would have been a different scenario. The President would have emphasized the potential market risk. He would have understood the inherent behaviors of some of his team. He could have stressed the importance of not bringing emotions into the situation. The Head of Marketing would have understood his own reaction to the challenging news. He would have realized he’d be concerned about the potential loss of stability and safety in his environment and known how to manage his reaction to the news.

Difficult Conversations After a Confidence is Broken  Insert Photo 3

  1. Set a structured agenda and have prepared questions.
  2. Meet in a more formal environment in the office.
  3. Expect yes/no answers.
  4. Offer details and analysis.
  5. Avoid abstract ideas in communication, and keep to specifics.
  6. Present the research performed to come to the specific conclusion.
  7. Provide case studies as examples rather than having a high-level, conceptual discussion.
  8. Show the risks are minimized (not eliminated) in the recommendations.
  9. Say what you are going to do and then do it. Be very transparent.
  10. Provide them with newsletters and books, economic information.

How we handle responsibility for our decisions, as well as our mistakes, is a direct reflection on our character. However, without insight into our inherent communication and behavioral style we do not know our default reaction to a situation such as the Head of Marketing faced.

 

The Harsh Reality About Communication Styles

The Harsh Reality About Communication Styles

“We treat you like you’d treat you”. This commercial gained tremendous popularity for one reason: for effective service you need your communication styles to match each client’s unique style.

I like transactions that are easy, effortless, and fun. Save me some time and the aggravation of not having to wait in a long voicemail “queue” and I will reward your firm by sharing my positive experience at every opportunity.

But how would a customer service employee know that about me if they haven’t had frequent interactions with me? And furthermore, what difference does it make?

The hard-edged, measurable results are that you will get more business. According to Gallup research, 23% more business to be exact, from me and from my referrals.

A few weeks ago, I needed to call customer service at a major financial services firm. Like many of you, I was dreading having to even make the call. Why? Long automated menu selection, not even having the option that I need to select, then having to figure out how to get a “live” person, and then going into another “queue” that informs me I am calling at a high volume time and my anticipated wait time is five plus minutes.

“Really?!”

Then, after the wait, I finally talk to a service person, only to get the wrong information. I had to call back two more times (and yes, go through the queue again) before I received the correct procedure.

I certainly shared my experience on the satisfaction survey I received the next day. I guess it is no surprise that no one has acknowledged the poor service or tried to assure me that they want me to have a better experience next time.

How many calls come into the typical customer service center on a daily basis? 1,000 plus! The way I see it, a firm gets 1,000 plus opportunities to build and strengthen client relationships.

If you are relying only on customer surveys to gain intelligence on how to create a unique customer experience rather than learning how to customize communication styles, you will be left behind by the competition.

To provide unique customer experiences from the very beginning, you need the right behavioral information at your fingertips. So bring the solution to your firm so you can say with confidence: we treat you like you’d treat you.

About the author:

Peggy Mengel – Senior Consultant, Human Behavior Solutions Advisor

Peggy Mengel has spent 30 years helping financial services firms build deeper, stronger and more trusting client and employee relationships. With an understanding people before numbers approach. Peggy helps you navigate the human differences in your business to create sustained success. Armed with behavioral intelligence, you will be able to attract and retain the right clients, empower your team for authentic productivity, and enjoy a 23% boost in revenues. Read more

Millennials and their Money- they are Savvier than you think.

Millennials and Their Money: They are Savvier Than You Think!

Companies are currently bending themselves out of shape in an effort to attract the 83.1 million Millennial [Source: 2015 U.S. Census Bureau] in the US to their offering or services. But what are they really doing to get to know Millennials as a group?

The Financial Services Industry could do well to recognize that Millennials are very specific about what they want from their Financial Advisors:

Millennials and their Money 1

Source: Millennials and Money Merryl Lynch

This survey highlights the importance of really understanding what Millennials want to do with their money, and what kind of relationship they want with their financial advisor.

The message: Get to know Millennials. Understanding the Millennials behavioral style will enable messaging to be targeted to the individual. Regardless of their age or generation – are the Millennials naturally spenders or savers, goal driven or content to build a balanced life, risk takers or cautious, trusting or skeptical etc.? Put another way, Millennials can be your “Millionaire Next Door” type who is frugal or that person who lives large, spending all they have in the belief tomorrow will take care of itself. There have been these types of people across all generations.

With this insight, find the most appropriate medium to converse with them. Revealing their behavioral style, core talents, and decision-making approach will ensure you get their attention if you translate that knowledge into a personalized offering. Remember, Millennials now represent the largest generation in the United States.

For every person, regardless of generation, there is always a lot going on below the surface that is motivating his or her life and financial behavior. Generally, these behaviors cannot be easily or quickly measured by human observation. This then makes it difficult to know how extreme and/or predictable the behavior will be.

A structured behavioral finance approach benefits both the advisor and the client by making the advisory process more tangible and robust. This is achieved by both the advisor and client participating in an objective financial behavior discovery process when the planning process starts.

A key point that financial advisors must always remember is that their behavioral style will influence how they perceive the investment markets, their clients, and the advice they give. Research studies show that advisors can have “Over-Confidence” and “Myopic Loss Aversion.” Therefore, advisors will have a behavioral bias that may influence their recommendations. This together with a population segment bias about Millennials, ensures the financial services industry will be unlikely to attract any new younger clients, regardless of demographic. In other words, do you already have a bias towards Millennials based on all the adverse publicity they are receiving? It’s a question worth asking and answering.

The Millennials are not dummies. According to a new survey undertaken by T. Rowe Price:

The 18 to 34 year-old set is better about tracking their spending and sticking to a budget than Baby Boomers. 75% track their expenses carefully. 76% of Millennials stick to a budget; 40% of Millennials have increased their 401(k) contributions in the past twelve months. Source: Millennial Investment Behavior.

Uncovering and understanding the behavioral style of Millennial clients and how they want to use their money allows the Financial Advisor to target their services more effectively. Harvard Business Review in their article “Stop Designing for Millennials” highlights the importance of understanding customer attitudes and behaviors:

Defining an ideal customer for a potential product or service using broader human themes allows you to create solutions that resonate with a larger group of people. ..Far too many companies take a “product-out” view of segmentation, where they essentially ask their customers to line up around their products by demographics such as age or income. They should take an “outside-in” view that orients its products around their customers’ attitudes and behaviors instead. Meeting the functional and emotional needs of a group of people is much more likely to generate transformative results than targeting a generational cohort with tenuous links. Source: Stop Designing for Millennials HBR

An example of this approach can be seen in the fall off of the banking system as we know it.

Almost all (88%) of Millennials do their banking online and half of those use their smartphone to do so. This experience leads about three-fourths of Millennials (73%) to be “more excited about a new offering in financial services from Google, Amazon, Apple, Paypal or Square” than from a nationwide bank. Since both the technology and the financial wherewithal to offer such services exists within these firms, the study’s prediction of “seismic” change in the near term future of banking appears to be at least a realistic vision of the future.” Source: “Millennials Invest More Time in Digital Banking,” emarketer.com, March 25, 2014.

As a financial advisor:

  1. You must learn how to communicate with Millennials on their unique terms defined by their behavioral style (regardless of the communication vehicle).
  2. If you know the Millennials behavioral style, then you know how to frame information to attract them.
  3. Get to know where your inherent bias and behavior sits. Then learn how to manage both.
  4. Stop reading Millennial-focused press clippings that cause undue bias or incorrect perceptions about them.
  5. Get to know the Millennials already in your world. That insight will be invaluable to what kind of an advisor you will be to your Millennial clients.