Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Behavioral Style
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Behavioral Style

Dear Readers,

Many thanks to those who joined us last week for the webinar on Strategies for Dealing with Difficult Clients. Whenever I get questions on how to handle someone who is difficult, or what to do when a client (or employee) is unreasonable, I focus first on the differences in style.

Our behavioral styles have so much to do with how we communicate and interact with others. Understanding the power of behavioral styles reminds us that communication is so much more than the words we use. If you have ever been in a disagreement or a difficult exchange and one person said, “But all I said was this….” And the other person responded, “Nope, that’s not all you said! Your body language said it all….” Then you understand the premise behind behavioral style.

Think about the fact that a difficult client might be one who is too headstrong, or not decisive enough, or too talkative, or not engaged enough, or one who takes too long to consider something or doesn’t think through things sufficiently. If you encapsulate one definition of “difficult” you will find it to be impossible. What is difficult to you might be easy to another advisor. You might like the headstrong person, while someone else is intimidated and gets a pit in their stomach when they have to deal with them.

Behavioral style is in everyone’s DNA – we can’t change it but we can learn more about it. We can observe our own tendencies, and understand where we connect well with others, and conversely what styles are a struggle for us.

Behavioral style has four components: the words we use, our tone, our pace and our body language. Unfortunately we focus a great deal on the words. We might practice a pitch, or hone our story, or write and rewrite a presentation. Words are a small part of what anyone takes away in a given communication. Some research says they are as little as 7%. The rest is coming from the delivery of those words – the pace, whether fast or slow, the tone we use and the body language associated with the delivery. If you are a fast talking, fast moving advisor, and you have a slow and steady client, you won’t be communicating as well if you only focus on the words in any given exchange. Matching pace, tone and body language can be an important way to opening communication more effectively.

In my webinar I talked about the importance of recognizing your own triggers. As an exercise, take a look at your difficult clients and see if you can recognize any themes. Is there some similarity among them? Is the thing that makes them difficult recurring throughout your interactions with them? When you can observe, objectively, what someone is doing and which behaviors make them difficult for you to deal with them, you can start to see patterns. These patterns can probably inform you about the kinds of people you enjoy communicating with and those who are a turnoff for you.

By Beverly Flaxington, read the full article here.