Better than "Hi, how are you?" — Greeting a grieving clientBlog added by Amy Florian on April 22, 2014
Amy Florian

Amy Florian

Hoffman Estates, IL

Joined: November 26, 2013

My Company

Corgenius, Inc.

How do you greet your clients? Whether answering the phone or shaking a client’s hand, financial professionals often tell me their first words are: “Hi, how are you?” That’s not surprising, since it has become the standard greeting in the United States. However, if you want to deepen your relationship and loyalty with a client in transition or grief, it is not a good question to ask.

Grieving people are acutely aware that most people don’t really want to know the answer, especially if the answer is not good news. So they rely on a standard response such as “fine” or “OK." It’s not the truth, but it gets them by for the moment.

Instead of asking “How are you?” invite your clients to talk about what is really going on and be willing to listen to the answer. Remember they are probably aching to talk. You can preface your questions with something like, “It’s good to see you" or, “I’ve been thinking about you.” Or “I’m happy you called; you are always in my thoughts.”

Then ask an open-ended question such as:
  • So what kind of a day is it today? Up, down or all over the place?
  • What has changed in your life since the last time we talked?
  • In what ways has the reality sunk in, and in what ways does it still just seem unreal?
  • Tell me something good that happened today and something that disappointed or saddened you.
  • What do you wish people knew about what your life is like now?
Asking open-ended questions like these lets your clients know you have a clue what they are experiencing and, unlike so many others, you care enough to listen to the truth.
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