The writer Maya Angelou once said that “people will never forget how you made them feel,” and this is true whether we’re talking about friends, family or clients.
When a client experiences the death of a loved one, how you make them feel can do more than anything else to contribute to your relationship.
Naturally, as an advisor you can be essential in helping a bereaved client navigate complex issues involved in settling the estate, filing insurance claims and making sure that financial needs are met. But what clients need most of all at this difficult time is an understanding of their deeply emotional and vulnerable condition.
While most advisors are adept at handling the financial issues, those who know how to do so with the necessary emotional sensitivity are less common. And what might seem to be the correct response is not always the best one. Say, for example, your client starts to cry. Your first impulse is probably to hand them a tissue. You might think this is helpful, but it could be interpreted as discomfort with their emotion. “Take this tissue and stop crying.”
Instead, have a box of tissue within easy reach of the client seating area. If your client is weepy and sniffly, simply note that it’s there. You’re helpful, but not suggesting that their tears are unwelcome. Let them know it’s ok to cry, and real strength lies in facing difficult emotions head on instead of repressing them. Your office is a safe space where they can express what they are feeling, and count on help in dealing with a difficult period.
Many people are tempted to try and frame a situation in some positive way, no matter how dire. This leads to statements like “at least he’s not suffering anymore.” This is NOT helpful. There’s no putting a positive spin on the death of a loved one. Don’t tell them how they should feel; acknowledge how they DO feel.
In order to validate your client, ask them how they’re feeling. Try to gain a better understanding of their loss; encourage them to share memories and feelings. Listen to them. We can’t overestimate the value of listening actively. In a society that often attempts to gloss over death, your client can feel especially alone. People avoid them or change the subject to avoid talking about the deceased. Look them directly in the eye and encourage them to talk.
If you can treat your clients with sensitivity and understanding that they may find to be rare, you’ll build a greater level of trust. Not only will you have the satisfaction of making your client feel just a tiny bit better, but that client will remember your empathy.
For more information, please read:
Your Clients Will Never Forget How You Made Them Feel | Wealth Management