So, do you think you are a good listener … ?

Listening, parking our own views and judgements, asking open and supportive questions, is the best way to help clients make decisions

Listening is something we do all the time. It is an important part of human relationships, and whether we are being listened to or not has a big influence on how we feel and our friendships.

But are we any good at it?

What makes a good listener? Has anyone ever taught us how to listen? I think for most of us the answer is no, in the same way that no one has really told us how to eat, we just do it.

But there are occasions when I am with someone and speak of something important which is close to my heart, and I do so because it is important to me and I want to share it. But then I feel rather frustrated and hurt that as soon as I have finished the comment, the response comes back:

“Oh I know someone who felt like that, they … ”

and suddenly we are talking about something they want to talk about, someone I have never met and have no affinity with. This becomes their agenda and their subject and I feel rejected. This leads me not to get personal in the future, keep the subject matter light and inconsequential. I think they are trying to be helpful by giving an example to support me, but it is about their friend, they have taken over the subject matter and in reality their own interests take over.

The other faux par is jumping in with solutions

Someone outlines an issue they are grappling with and the friend, almost before they have finished speaking jumps in with a solution. If it was that easy, the solution would have been discovered ages ago. A simple follow on question shows interest, and encourages the speaker to talk more. Then there is the possibility for more meaningful conversation and the speaker feels supported and safe.

So when engaging with clients and giving financial advice, actually this is all about them

My experience is almost irrelevant. I am there simply to help them establish what they want to do and be and then ensure that the finances support this. It is important that I do not ask questions that lead. If I do, this is simply my over view on their situation, it may not be theirs.

We hear it on the radio, excellent journalists asking pertinent questions, only to then give two alternative answers

No, No, No, you asked a great question, let the interviewee answer in the way they chose, don’t restrict them to the two alternatives you think are relevant.