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Few situations are as fraught with minefields as being interviewed by a couple. You need to be mindful of the fact that they may have different agendas and may view investing from different perspectives.
Then there’s the issue of dealing with the alpha male or female who dominates the conversation and keeps the other person from expressing his or her views.
There’s a tendency for advisors to direct the conversation towards the dominant person and exclude the spouse.
A critical question
Over time, I’ve come up with one strategy that has been a positive way to begin the meeting with couples. Ask this question:
“How did the two of you meet?”
I learned from my coaching clients that this question elicits a uniformly positive response. Most couples will immediately smile and look fondly at each other. They will then tell the story of how they met, often interrupting each other to inject a humorous detail.
Previously, I attributed this positive response to a basic premise of the Solin Process. People love to talk about themselves. Your goal is to empower them to do so. Once you do, their impression of you will be favorably influenced.
Why it’s so effective
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Uri Hasson has studied this issue extensively. Dr. Hasson completed his Ph.D. in neurobiology at the Weizmann Institute in Israel and was a postdoctoral fellow at NYU. He is currently a professor in the psychology department and the Neuroscience Institute at Princeton University.
He explained the neuroscience behind good communication in this interview, published in the Harvard Business Review.
He and his colleagues recorded the brain responses of a woman discussing her high school prom experience and the people listening to her account. They recorded MRI images of the brains of the speaker and the listeners.
The researchers found a “coupling” between the brains of the person telling the story and those listening to it. The higher the similarity in the two brains, the greater the comprehension of the listener.
How it works
How was the coupling achieved? In her book, The Influential Mind, Tali Sharot attributed it to our reaction to hearing powerful emotions. Emotions seem to trigger a powerful response in the brains of those hearing them, provided we are experiencing the same emotion. She explains, “Emotion equates the psychological state of the listener with that of the speaker, which makes it more likely that the listener will process incoming information in a similar manner to how the speaker sees it.”
That’s why asking how two people met is a critically important question. It elicits positive feelings in them, which are transmitted to your brain. The brains of you and your prospects are “coupled,” leading to high mutual comprehension and an overall positive vibe.
In contrast, if you simply present data without tying it to an emotion, little or no “coupling” will occur and comprehension is likely to be impaired.
The key to effective communication with couples (and others) is to elicit positive emotions. Fortunately, this is not difficult to do.
Just ask them how they met.
Dan Solin is a New York Times best-selling author of the Smartest series of books. His latest book is The Smartest Sales Book You'll Ever Read. His sales coaching practice includes helping advisors convert prospects into clients and generating leads through videos and other elements of marketing. Dan is not affiliated with any advisory firm.
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