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When Clients Get Sick, What Should an Advisor Do?

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hospital bed (Photo: Shutterstock)

You have lots of friends and clients. From time to time, someone gets sick. Sometimes it can be anything from a broken leg to a fatal disease. What’s an advisor to do? You want to be seen as compassionate, not predatory.

This is a bigger problem than it seems. You’ve heard “Out of sight, out of mind.” The pandemic has driven this point home. You had plenty of people you see on a regular basis before the lockdown. How many have called and asked: “How are you doing?” Fewer than you would have hoped. People are often forgotten about when their regular routine changes.

Here’s how human nature works. A friend gets sick. You don’t know what to say, so you don’t call. The friend feels forgotten about. Others call and say “Let me know if there is anything I can do.” That’s a vague question. You know the answer when you ask for referrals that way. Their mind goes blank.

Think about the Golden Rule of “Do unto others…” Your approach will be different.

  • Send a card. It sounds so basic, but plenty of people don’t even have the USPS on their radar screen. If they are in the hospital, the card will go onto their side table. They will hopefully get others.
  • Send flowers. This has far greater impact than you might imagine. Use a good florist. They will look spectacular. They brighten up the room. Flowers are fun to look at, admiring their delicacy.
  • Keep in touch. Everyone has their preferred communication channel. Use it to send messages, keep them up to date on what the gang is doing. Send funny messages that will cheer them up. Don’t dismiss the “old school” idea of writing letters. They have a permanence.
  • Visit. This is one of the skills that has made you successful as an advisor, You put people at ease. You cheer them up. They feel better after seeing you. Obviously this is general advice. The pandemic comes with its own set of restrictions.
  • How can I help? This is a variation on “Is there anything I can do?” One of your skills when asking for referrals is to get specific. It gets people thinking. When you offer to help, suggest collecting their mail. Bringing the trash cans back from the curb. Watering their plants. They might not need these tasks done, but it might prompt their thinking.

Sometimes people get really sick. It’s a prolonged illness. Their spouse and family members become caregivers. They are exhausted and stressed out. Here’s your chance to do something really good. Get in touch. Let them know you would like to spend a couple of hours visiting with your friend. Suggest they take the afternoon off. They will be very grateful.

When friends get sick, we hope they recover. Regardless of the outcome, everyone who matters will know you were a good, giving person who stepped up when help was needed. It makes a lasting impression. It can lead to future business.

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