The top way to reduce your anxiety is to consider the needs of someone else! Colorado Gives Day is a concrete way to express your gratitude: https://www.coloradogives.org/cogivesday
If anxiety is the #1 mental health issue faced by 18% of the adult population AND we’re moving into the most stressful season of the year—then it shouldn’t surprise you that 1 out of 5 of your clients/stakeholders/employees is anxious!
Your brain is like Velcro for negative experiences and like Teflon for positive ones—even though most of your experiences are probably neutral or positive….
-Dr. Rick Hanson in Mindful Money, Nov 2014, p. 21
At this month’s Financial Planning Association meeting, Susan Zimmerman, financial planner and Marriage and Family Therapist, shared insights richly applicable to financial planners and business owners alike! Most invaluable is her astute understanding of key frameworks–and even specific language–to keep conversations progressing productively.
What to say:
Zimmerman suggested that if you want to ACE your client interactions, consider using the Ask, Confirm, Encourage framework to move an exploratory conversation forward. True listening happens when we
- Ask questions of respectful understanding and
- Confirm what we think our client has said. Then we can make an
- Encouraging statement such as “Tell me more” or ask a clarifying question such as “On a scale of 1 to 10, how uncomfortable are you with…”
When attempting to find the common ground between conflicted parties, a good concluding comment can be to ask:
“Is this something you can both live with?”
Whenever you could use a negative emotional word (shame, fear, anxiety and the like) consider using “stress” as a great catch-all term to frame negative words. Similarly, people resist change. Why not use “progress” as a great substitute word for change?
What NOT to say:
Zimmerman similarly pointed out verbal landmines to avoid. Two key inflammatory words are why and but. “Why” is often asked in a judgmental tone (“Why did you do THAT?”) and “but” invalidates whatever affirming positive statements that preceded it. “But” undoes much of the good work you seek to do in building bridges in the conversation. A few other counter-productive words to avoid are
- Calm down.
- You always…
- You never…
This command and the sweeping generalities are condescending and evoke much anxiety in the listener; in fact, when a person experiences the social rejection of these words, the pain centers in the brain light up. Research has shown that when one party in a conversation is in pain (or has anxiety-driven elevated blood pressure!), the other one will experience that as well.
Questions that allow you to probe deeper:
Zimmerman also has a masterful way of framing questions to honor the client’s need for safety and includes the commitment to help the client make progress.
- Are there aspects of your financial life [business] that bother you at times?
- Do you ever get stressed by money matters [business matters] in your life?
- How stressful is this aspect of your finances [business]?
- To what extent are you bugged by this part of your money life [business]?
- What would successful progress look like?
(Mindful Money, Nov. 2014, p. 20)
In this season of higher-than-usual anxiety, let’s all contribute to a more thankful, peace-filled and life-affirming Thanksgiving/Christmas season by
- ACE-ing conversations (Ask, Confirm, Encourage)
- Avoiding inflammatory words
- Being curious
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
I am thankful for you, my readers, my family and all my wonderful clients and other stakeholders. It’s not too late to try out my Gratitude Toolkit for the holiday season!