by Mitch Anthony

Last month, we discussed the five critical levels of emotional intelligence (EQ), or A.R.R.O.W.:

Others (empathy)
Working with others (building rapport)

This month, we’ll continue the conversation as we move from “me” to “we”.

Understanding the inherent challenges in our own personality and making necessary adjustments is a giant leap toward developing emotional intelligence—moving from “me” to “we”. In order to accomplish this, we need to gain a clear understanding of how our personality impacts others and is perceived by both colleagues and clients. We also need to learn to recognize the type of personality we are attempting to communicate with, so that we do not unwittingly arouse negative emotional reactions and shut down the communication process. Emotional intelligence is a matter of knowing yourself, knowing those around you, and knowing the adjustments you need to make.

Many times we find ourselves in situations similar to fitting a three-prong plug into a two-prong outlet—no matter how hard we try, there will be no connection and certainly no positive electrical flow. The same holds true in developing critical connections with clients to develop an “emotional flow” that leads to trust and loyalty. The only way this happens is when we begin to understand the important role that personality plays in establishing this connection.

Unfortunately, many advisors only communicate at the superficial level of product features and benefits with a one-size-fits-all mentality. This shallow approach creates a weak psychological footing upon which to build client trust. Your communication can go from superficial to profound by first addressing your clients’ values and motives for investing, and then ultimately addressing their “core personality”—the foundation from which all their decisions and reactions are based. Awareness of your own personality’s impact as well as greater concern for the comfort level of your colleagues and clients is the bedrock for success in communication. These two objectives, when realized, will minimize miscommunication, misunderstanding, and negative interaction with colleagues and clients and serve as a basis for strengthened trust and improved relationships. This approach, for many, has become a foundational communication skill for managing client expectations, reactions, and behaviors. Moving from “me” to “we” means putting your clients first by understanding each client and the manner in which she (or he) wishes to be approached. In other words, if you want to move from “me” to “we,” you need to work with clients on their terms.

Years ago, I participated in the Meyer-Briggs personality profile study. After the course, when I was asked to explain “what I was,” I had difficulty articulating what I had learned. The information, I felt, was brilliant but needed simplification. I began to search out other systems that were simpler in their terminology. Each system I reviewed had one flaw that bothered me—all were egocentric in their approach.

These systems basically answered one question, namely Who am I?, as if that was the end of the discussion. Frustrated at not being able to find a system that worked for me, I decided to create one—TEAM Dynamics—to explore the quadrant personality theory from a broader perspective that answers all of the following questions:

  • What is my style?
  • What is your style, and how do I recognize it?
  • What dynamic is created when our two personalities interact, and how can I leave a positive emotional impression?

Emotionally intelligent financial advisors can integrate this knowledge of self and personality dynamics into his (or her) approach with each client. The result is a more productive and profitable relationship with colleagues and clients.

While each personality style has many features—both positive and challenging—each personality has a simple and understandable axis around which it revolves. Understanding this “personality axis” or “spinal column” of the personality is a good first step toward understanding your own and others’ personalities. Let’s take a look at what the acronym TEAM means when evaluating your own personality style.

Togetherness (Feelings-oriented)

First and foremost in the mind of the togetherness personality are the issues revolving around sensitivity. How will others feel? How will this affect them? Did you show me respect and kindness? The higher your number on the Togetherness line, the more prominent this feature will be in your personality.

Enterpriser (Results-oriented)

Enterprisers are happiest when they are accomplishing something and achieving results. They want to control their own destiny and are frustrated and unhappy when they are not in control. Individualistic in nature, Enterprisers live by the creed, “If you want to get something done, do it yourself.” They like to get to the point and expedite results.

Analyzer (Accuracy-oriented)

Analyzers desire precision and accuracy in all they do. They like a linear and predictable process and want to see compliance with process. Their desire for accuracy leads to an intense desire to do things right.

Motivator (Energy-oriented)

Motivators gravitate to where the fun and joy of life exists. They take a more random, less predictable approach to life and have great amounts of energy to burn. They love to be on the go, enjoy action, and like to be around people who exude positive energy.

While you need to complete the profile to determine your own personality (available as part of a MyFLPTools subscription), this overview explores the different styles and what they can mean to your practice. Much of the conflict we face is personality based. Our personality style in large part defines how we view people and events and how we respond to them. Two people of varying personality styles view a single set of events and come away with completely opposite stories of what happened.

Many of the conflicts we face are simply rooted in personality differences. I am not wrong and you are not wrong—we simply perceive matters differently than our client and consequently, have different sets of priorities on how to resolve those conflicts.

Much of our disconnection with clients—the lack of cooperation and inability to persuade—boils down to seeing matters from the other person’s perspective. You need to understand not only your personality DNA, but also your colleagues and clients—what works for you doesn’t necessarily work for them.

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Adapted from Selling With Emotional Intelligence by Mitch Anthony. ©2003 Mitch Anthony. Published by Kaplan Publishing.

© 2014 Mitch Anthony

Mitch Anthony is the founder and president of Advisor Insights Inc. and the Financial Life Planning Institute, the leading provider of financial life planning tools and programs.

For almost two decades, Mitch and his team have provided training and development for both individual advisors and major organizations throughout the world. Mitch personally consults with many of the largest and most-recognizable names in the financial services industry on both financial life planning and relationship development.

Mitch has been named one of the financial services industry’s top “Movers & Shakers” for his pioneering work, and is interviewed by the media on a regular basis. The Institute is partnering with both Texas Tech University and the University of Georgia to develop financial life planning programs for their undergraduate programs. Mitch is a popular keynote speaker, columnist for Financial Advisormagazine and Journal of Financial Planning, and host of the daily radio feature, The Daily Dose, heard on over 100 radio stations nationwide.

Mitch is also the author of many groundbreaking books for advisors and consumers, including perennial bestseller StorySelling for Financial Advisors, cited by “Financial Advisor” magazine as the number one “must-read” book for financial professionals. Mitch’s other books include The New Retirementality (now in its 4th edition)From the Boiler Room to the Living Room, Your Clients for Life, Your Client’s Story, The Cash in the Hat, and The Bean is Not Green. For information on these books and more resources, click here. Contact Mitch at [email protected].