Financial advisor. Investment advisor. The word advisor is right there in the title. Advisors give advice!

Here’s the rub. People don’t want advice. They want to be heard, understood. Only then are they receptive to outside viewpoints. Dan Solin writes:

“Don’t automatically think prospects and clients want you advice. There will be many times when you can build a relationship of trust and confidence by not giving it.”

If you not there to give advice to a prospective client, what are you there for? Gustavo Razzetti at Thrive Global thinks this is what you should do:

It’s better to be a good listener than to give advice no one will follow.

The best advice is being empathetic to the person that needs help. Practice walking in the other person’s shoes, rather than trying them to walk in yours…

Empathy is critical to connect with people in a way that they don’t get defensive and stop listening.

Avoid the “If I were you…” Each person is unique. The same advice given to two different people will trigger different reactions. Don’t assume that others feel or experience life through the same lens than you do.

The bottom line is that you can’t get clients to take productive steps until they feel comfortable with you. As Josh Brown notes: “People do business with people they like.” There is plenty of time to get clients to a better place.

Clients are in all likelihood coming to you because some external event has befallen them or they have come to the conclusion that they need additional help. In both of these situations the potential client is in a vulnerable state. They don’t need to be “won over” they need to be listened to. James Clear in a great post writes:

The brilliant Japanese writer Haruki Murakami once wrote, “Always remember that to argue, and win, is to break down the reality of the person you are arguing against. It is painful to lose your reality, so be kind, even if you are right.”

Reality is sometimes a bitter pill to swallow. Hand the other person a glass of water, not unsolicited advice. As Clear beautifully states: “Be kind first, be right later.”