The Seven Words that Transform Conversations
Much has been written about how to ask better questions. But while asking the right questions is important, it’s how you respond to the answers that truly determines the success of a conversation.
That’s why seven words can shape the outcome when you talk to clients and prospects – seven words when clients start talking, seven words after they answer all your questions and seven words before you present recommendations.
Let’s start with the seven to say when clients start talking.
Do you mind if I take notes?
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Good advisors are great listeners. But it’s not enough just to listen; the person you’re talking to also has to know that you’re listening.
That’s why when you talk to someone, the first key is to have them feel that you’re truly focused on what they have to say. There are lots of ways to convey that you’re actively listening – maintaining eye contact, nodding and interjecting with works like “I see.”
But none are more effective than asking, “Do you mind if I take notes?” This conveys that you believe that the person you’re talking to is saying something important and that your first priority is understanding and remembering what they have to say.
The trick is to take notes without losing eye contact, so you need to get in the habit of jotting down key points and then re-establishing eye contact. The other time to make a note is when you hear something that you want to come back to and offer your response. When that happens, write down a couple of words and circle them. That way, you don’t have to worry about remembering a key point that you want to pick up on, and you can concentrate on what you’re hearing and give the client or prospect your full attention.
So what I hear you say is…
The second sequence of seven words comes after someone has said everything they want to say. How do you know when that’s happened? Simply leave three seconds of silence. When someone finishes, count slowly to yourself. If he or she hasn’t resumed talking after three seconds, chances are they’ve finished their thought
At that point, you use the second set of seven words: “So what I hear you say is…” There are two advantages to saying this. If the person you’re talking to forgot to make a point, this gives them another chance to make it. And second, by playing back what he or she has said, you demonstrate that you were really listening to what they had to say.