By Matt Aitchison, Clear Vision Financial Planning
So, you’ve prepared thoroughly for your client meeting, feeling good and suddenly you hear a small voice in your head, which says:
“What right do you have giving this person advice?”
It can even happen mid meeting if you’re asked an awkward question. This is called imposter syndrome and is more common than you think.
I definitely suffer from it on a daily basis, so let me give you some tips on how I deal with it…
1. Embrace it
First off, I think having imposter syndrome is a good sign.
It shows that you care deeply about what you’re doing, so deeply that you are concerned about getting it wrong. I’d be more worried if you didn’t have imposter syndrome! Embrace it and recognise it as a superpower. The best advisers are always striving to shake off that feeling by learning and growing.
"The best advisers are always striving to shake off that feeling by learning and growing"
2. Be prepared
The first step in battling that destructive inner voice is being prepared. This means having an agenda for each and every meeting.
If it’s a first meeting, have a rough internal script for each bit of the meeting plus a bank of good quality questions. If the conversation stops flowing and feels forced, having a bank of good questions, and an idea of the next agenda point helps you avoid the panic setting in.
I won’t list them, but I love questions from Bill Bachrach, George Kinder and Dan Sullivan.
If you are showing a cashflow model, make sure you know how to work the software, explain every aspect and make changes live with the client. Try and think of the common questions a client might ask around assumptions, investment approach and figure out a stock answer, sketch or story to answer the question. Practice answering the questions so you know you can tackle them without worry.
Do you ever suffer from Imposter Syndrome?
3. Take a breath
Before your meeting take 10 or 15 minutes where you unplug.
Find somewhere quiet and just take some deep breathes to calm yourself and start to picture a good meeting. After all, the client wants this meeting to go well too. You are on the same team, they’re rooting for you!
4. During the meeting
During the meeting, there are two things you can use that are powerful. The first is silence. Ask a question and be quiet. Their silence might feel awkward, but it gives them room to think. As soon as you talk, you break their thinking time.
But what about if you’re silent? The client will assume that you are putting some thought into your answer and will give you the time and space to think without judging you. It’s only your inner voice that tells you they are judging you.
The second powerful tool is three simple words…
“I don’t know”.
Don’t be afraid to admit to not knowing something. As long as you follow up in a timely manner with the right answer, you will get more respect than fumbling for a guessed answer.