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'Stop listening to reply - listen to understand’

Six Habits of Successful Conversationalists

Holding a good conversation is an underrated, but required, skill in our industry. This separates good advisors from excellent coaches.

It's easy for accountants to fall into an advisory rut, cutting to the chase, always giving the answer - delivering advice based on experience and knowledge. While this will always be a necessary part of our role, if we don't vary our approach we can miss vital opportunities to help and add further value. After all, clients are individuals with unique situations and needs.
I read a great article that highlighted six habits of effective conversationalists and have summarised these below. They can help you to better coach your clients and build enduring relationships through improved conversations.

1. Listen more than you talk.

When talking, we are in control, but listening is what makes us memorable. It also triggers ideas. We cannot assume we know what each client is thinking, or what they need without listening and asking adept questions.

2. Limit interjections based on your experiences.

All experiences are individual, and your conversation should be about your client, not about you. Avoid the perception that you're using a conversation to promote yourself - this will damage trust.

3. Admit what you don't know.

Acknowledging your lack of understanding will project you as humble and flatter the client. Take the opportunity to ask better questions and engage further. Your client will appreciate that you respect their opinion and position. Remember the process of coaching can be as valuable for the coach as it is for the client - so avoid 'I know' thinking.

4. Be well read.

Be interesting. Stay informed on a variety of topics to enliven your conversations. Tune in to what your client's interests are and be curious of their views. Introducing new concepts and ideas will keep them awake and engaged, and when we are interested our learning is greater.

5. Look for cues.

Great coaches listen with their eyes, assess body language and gauge a client's interest level, helping them to alter and improve a conversation. Presenting genuine questions and relevant ideas will help to build trust and enhance the relationship.

6. Let go of unnecessary detail.

It's annoying when someone derails a conversation by struggling to recall a name or a date that's not crucial. Avoid verbal clutter - it can dilute your message. Quality versus quantity, less is more, and get to the point.

There are numerous studies linking empathy with effective leadership. Harvard Business Review explains that 'empathic listening builds trust and respect… [and] creates an environment that encourages collaborative problem-solving.'

'Ask, don't tell' is the driving force behind our Complimentary Client Review bridge. This content module includes everything you need (including all of the adept questions!) to deliver an effective situational review.
This one hour conversation will enable you to extract a client's burning issues (and opportunities) so that you can help them improve their unique situation through Business Development. This is a proven way to build client stickiness while growing additional service layers and recurring income.