Who would you rather deal with: a doctor who listens attentively as you describe your symptoms or one who is certain he knows your problem before he’s examined you? A salesperson who asks questions before offering an opinion or one who launches right into a pitch for her latest product? The car salesman who takes the time to find out what’s important to you or the hard closer who wants to rush you into a sale?
In each of these examples, the first person displays a high level of emotional intelligence (“EQ”). A person with a high EQ is able to empathize with another and appreciate her humanity. He is able to truly hear what his prospects say and keep his ego from getting in the way of helping them.
This begs the question: Is being “good” good for business? I say absolutely yes. We all want to be surrounded by people of goodwill—thoughtful, polite and empathetic. Good people are resilient, willing to sacrifice for others, patient, forgiving, self-confident, positive-thinking and fun to be around. They can appreciate a good joke. Who wouldn’t want to be around such people?
Compassion counts. Many years ago, a very successful insurance agent was asked what accounted for his success. He replied, “I don’t say much about this, but I think people just like me more than other agents.” Recent research into what makes a doctor effective found that “the more caring and compassionate the doctor, the better the health outcomes, and the lower the ultimate costs of treatment.” The same applies to financial advice. An advisor has to truly care about a prospect to provide the best, most appropriate service.
The more we can cultivate kindness and goodwill, the more we will be able to empathize with others and the better advisors we will become. Perfection of action is not expected or required. But perfection of attitude is a goal to which we can all aspire.
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Nick Ray is a business coach who specializes in working with financial services professionals. He is the author of There’s More to Selling than Making the Sale as well as a workbook on target marketing. He can be reached at email@example.com.