Words that Hinder Building Rapport with New Clients


In discovering prospects’ attitudes and desires related to money, we often use the phrase, “Tell me more about…,” or “Tell me how that made you feel.”

While the intention is good, using these words can unwittingly create a barrier to rapport and trust. Instead of issuing a directive, make this small change in your phrasing to invite them to share more with you, ensuring your words hit the mark every time.

  • Changing language habits doesn’t come easily. Practice this new wording with family and friends.
  • Watch how people respond to this invitation and, typically, open up because they feel you are genuinely interested.
  • Compliment and thank the person for sharing with you.

Related: Maintain Perspective: Overcoming Tough Days


You may not realize it, but you’re likely hampering rapport with new clients by using these words.

Here’s what’s going on and a better way to get the results you want.

Often when I’m role playing with advisors or listening to how they’re setting up meetings with prospects, they’ll begin sentences with, “Tell me about…” “Tell me about how you saw your parents use money. . .

” “Tell me about an experience…” The insight they’re trying to elicit from the prospect is super helpful, however, the problem is how they frame it. When we say, “Tell me about…,” we’re putting ourselves in the driver’s seat. We’re letting that person see we’re in control, and you’ll respond to me. Think about when we were children, and times an authority figure said, “Tell me what happened next,” or “Tell me about what went on.” We were thinking, “This isn’t good! They’re in control, and I’m subservient. And now I’ve done something wrong.” There’s a better way to do this.

We use language so quickly, we often don’t think about how we can change a few words to make the whole process stronger. Instead of saying “Tell me…”, you can say something like this: “That sounded really interesting! Could you share some more about…?” “That sounded fascinating! When you said it, your eyes lit up. Could you share some more about what your parents did in this particular instance?” See what that does: it takes “me” out of it. There is no more directive to your prospect to “tell me more…” With these words, you’ve also complimented the prospect: “Wow, what you said was super interesting!” Finally, when you ask them, “Could you share more?” we tap into the idea that sharing is a good thing to do. We were taught that when we were children. And by asking them to share, you really put them in the driver’s seat to decide what, how and if they’ll share.

We want to be liked, and we want to be in control. That goes all the way back to Genesis three, and it’s never changing—it’s human nature. So use it to your advantage: “You mentioned… Would you mind sharing a little more about how that made you feel?” or “Would you mind sharing a little more about what next steps look like to you?”

It’s just a little change, but it’s going to sharpen up your approach to your prospect, and it’s going to have that prospect feeling in control. And here’s the bottom line: If you’re making people feel in control, who’s really in control here? And that’s fine because you need to surface this information. But but do it in a way where you really hear everything. Relax your prospect so you develop rapport and you get to learn exactly what they’re thinking and feeling.

So to do this most effectively,

  1. Practice it. Don’t assume because it’s language, it’ll come naturally. Practice it by use it amongst family members. Become a great conversationalist, starting with what’s first and foremost on that person’s mind: themselves.

  2. Watch the results. When you start talking like this—”You mentioned… Would you mind sharing a little more?”—watch what happens. Watch that person’s whole demeanor change.

  3. Compliment the prospect. Let the person know, “Thanks so much for sharing that insight. It really showed how you think about this…” “It really exposed how you’re feeling about this…” “It helps us drill down on what your expectations are and how we can best help.”

It’s just a little word change, but it makes a huge difference.

To learn more ways to write and speak more effectively like this, grab a copy of Smart Brevity. It’s one of the best books I’ve read regarding how to write more succinctly and how to tighten up on effective language.

You’ll learn more as you go, and you’ll make your language tighter and tighter so that it hits the mark every single time.

I look forward to bringing you another Distraction-Proof Advisor Idea next week.