Overcome The Curse of Knowledge
Financial Advisors know a lot about finance, economics, interest rates, taxes, estate planning, investing, the stock market and many other things. A whole lot. That knowledge comes with a price. When an Advisor knows his stuff, it’s hard to imagine not knowing it.
So when an Advisor speaks to a client, the Advisor often forgets that he or she is drawing from an enormous reservoir of knowledge and speaking to someone of lesser knowledge. Sweeping statements that make perfectly good sense to the Advisor are lost on the person who doesn’t have that same reservoir of knowledge.
There’s a better than average chance the point we are trying to make is lost. Our strategy never gets implemented.
This not-so-uncommon phenomenon is called the curse of knowledge.
All knowledgeable people are cursed: Advisors, wholesalers, doctors, lawyers, chefs, accountants and architects. Ask a scientist to explain global warming. Ask a basketball coach to explain the pick and roll play. There is an information imbalance in every case.
In order to make their points, all professionals need to learn to translate their knowledge into a language the listener understands. You can’t have a conversation when folks are speaking two different languages.
I am not talking about dumbing down our speech. I am talking about making our speech elegant. Who do you guess will get the new account: the Advisor speaking in his own language or the Advisor speaking in the client’s language? Albert Einstein advised us to find simplicity out of clutter.
The one method of simplifying a message and getting a point across that has stood the test of the centuries is storytelling.
If you want to become a more effective communicator, become a master storyteller. Stories and analogies make the unfamiliar familiar.
“You date a CD. You marry a bond,” says my friend Bim.
“When you push a beach ball way underwater, what happens when you let go,” asks my friend Paul during bear markets.
“My job is to find your pain and make it go away,” says my friend Pedro.
Simply having a great idea is not enough.
Effective communication does not come easily. You have to work hard at it. You should never overestimate how little your listener knows, any more than your doctor should never overestimate how little you know about medicine. Communication is not a solo endeavor. The speaker and the listener must both be engaged; and the novice investor is not going to rise to your level of sophistication. The burden of communicating is on you, not on your clients.
Did you ever tell a joke you thought was hilarious and the other person didn’t think it was funny?
That happens when you use yourself as a mental model. Don’t do that. Not everyone finds the same things funny that you find funny; and not everyone hears what you think you are saying the way you hear what you are saying.
You can’t get your point across if you can’t put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Don’t let your knowledge make you feel overconfident. Don’t believe for a moment that what you know is so simple that anyone can understand it. You’ve got to work at being understood.
Make your presentation simple.
Take out every word that is not absolutely necessary; the simpler the better. Once you condense it into what’s necessary, give it in its entirety. Don’t assume you can skip over anything. Zero in on the one point you want the listener to remember.
When you make someone understand a difficult concept, you make that person feel smart. When you make people feel smart, they like you. When they like you enough, they are on their way to trusting you. When they like you, trust you and think you are smart, you get the new account or the additional assets.
It’s pretty simple. The simpler you make your presentation, the quicker they understand you. The quicker they understand you, the quicker you do business.
What you don’t want to do is stand in front of your client and play Charades. We all know how difficult that is.
If you too have the Curse of Knowledge…
Check out Don Connelly’s workshop Say It Sot It Makes a Difference – in this workshop, Don shows Advisors how to overcome the Curse of Knowledge.
And if you want something right here, right now – order and download the mp3 version of Don’s 2 CD set “Say It So It Makes a Difference” – you will learn how to simplify your message so you are better understood by your prospective and current clients.