Sidney C. Walker
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October 2008

Your Clients Need You Now More Than Ever!
by Sidney C. Walker


In the book Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, he discusses the research of many authorities on brain function including Joseph Ledoux, a leading neuroscientist at New York University. His extensive and breakthrough research shows that the part of the brain that controls the emotional response to whatever is happening has the ability to “hijack” the brain and make a normally calm and rational person react as if we were being chased by a 400 lb saber-toothed tiger. This response served an important role when we were being chased by man-eating animals but obviously is not an appropriate response to stock market values taking a dive.

An important conclusion of Ledoux’s research is to understand it is natural and normal to panic before we have had a chance to use the reasoning part of the brain. If we were being chased by animals that wanted to make us dinner, it would make sense to panic first and think later. The obvious problem with this “panic” response is that it causes a lot of inappropriate behavior in modern society which can still feel warranted in a time of great stress.

The best way to resolve our natural response to panic under great stress is to give the “thinking” part of the brain time to kick in. This is why any good therapist will tell you to take a deep breath before you respond to an emotional situation. If you respond in the moment without control of your emotion, you are likely to create a bigger mess.

Also, because we create our lives by our predominant visions, if you hold onto a negative vision and keep giving it energy, you will create more negative results in your life.

Your mission is to get your clients past the panic response and get them to more rational thoughts (thankfully, not all your clients need this kind of help).

Some greedy people pulled off a big time raping of the financial system. It was criminal but unfortunately not illegal because of deregulation. We have to calm and remind our clients that the financial system is not going to collapse because of a few greedy people. We have to get past the panic response and have trust and faith that smart, solution-oriented people here and abroad will find a way to resolve the crisis. It will take some time, but we will be better off in the long run. Like any challenge, we will learn and grow and be better people as a result.

As a trusted financial advisor, you are a big part of the solution to the financial crisis by calming your clients who have chosen to panic. Obviously, what they do with their money is their choice. But you owe it to your clients and to all the good people of the world to make an attempt to get them past the panic response and guide them to using the more rational part of the brain.

There is a tendency in a crisis to avoid talking to clients. This is partly because we can feel unequipped to deal with all the negative emotions. You have to be able let people talk and listen for awhile. Then gently and steadfastly remind them that someone will find a solution just like they do every day with lesser challenges. Worrying and creating a negative vision of the future doesn’t really help. And you have to accept that some people are going to worry and be an emotional wreck no matter what you say. That is their choice and not your responsibility after giving it your best effort to shift their thinking.

The most important thing is for all of us to use our skill and leadership to maintain a positive vision of the future and to demand of ourselves to look for solutions in our own lives and trust that there are smart people looking for solutions in those situations beyond our reach.

Long ago, I chose to specialize in coaching financial advisors because it is one of the most, if not the most, psychologically demanding sales jobs there is. It requires great leadership and at times, great faith. This is a time to let your visionary and leadership qualities shine through. Like any good athlete will tell you, you can’t let the reaction from the crowd throw you off your game.

Have a productive October,

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