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I’ve spoken to more than 2,000 advisors this year. I never fail to ask this question:

Have you ever had the experience of saying something you thought was really interesting, and the other person paused, reflected and responded, “Tell me more about that?”

Virtually no one has reported this experience. This article is about two who did.

A rare experience

It’s inconceivable that thousands of advisors never said anything of sufficient interest to warrant this response. Most people never really hear what’s being said to them. They’re busy formulating their response and advancing their agenda.

It wouldn’t matter if you said you recently did a space walk at the international space station. Instead of the natural follow-up questions (e.g., What was that like?) they might regale you with an adventure of their own, like a safari in Africa.

There’s wisdom in this observation: "We were given two ears but only one mouth, because listening is twice as hard as talking."

An aunt and a mother

Given this history, you can imagine my surprise when, at two different sessions, a lone hand was raised when I asked my question. Naturally, I asked for details.

In one case an advisor from Australia told me a story about his favorite aunt, who resided in the U.K. Whenever he went to visit her, she would grab both his hands in hers, look into his eyes and say, “Tell me everything about Australia.”

I asked him how that made him feel. He said she has always been one of his most favorite people in the world and now he understood why. He also noted everyone feels the same about her. She is extremely popular and gets invited to more occasions than she can attend.

The second advisor told me his mother often would say, “Tell me more about that,” when he was with her. She had a keen interest in all aspects of his life. What he was saying didn’t even have to be particularly interesting to elicit that reaction.

I told him I was confident he loved his mother, but wondered how other people felt about her. Like the first advisor, he said, “Everyone loves my mom.”

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Their secret

I doubt if the interpersonal success of the aunt or mother could be attributed to impressive academic credentials or their ability to hold the attention of others, by telling interesting stories or through raw charisma.

They have this rare trait: They’re intensely interested in others and empower them to talk about themselves. They listen intently. They aren’t trying to shift the conversation in any direction. They simply demonstrate a desire to learn more about the other person.

If you can become one of the very rare people in the lives of your prospects who emulate the behavior of this beloved aunt and mother, all your relationships will be enhanced in a way many have described as “transformational.”

You’ll also gather more AUM.

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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