Working to Not be 'That' Person

Journal of Financial Planning: March 2021

In a recent meeting of the Denver chapter of a professional association of which I’m a member, a new Denver transplant joined us for the first time and served up an extra rough meeting experience. 

“Sorry if it looks like I’m not looking at you—I have the meeting on my second screen,” he said as we all looked at the side of his face. His phone rang during the meeting and he picked it up and started chatting disruptively before putting himself on mute. He was an equal opportunity interrupter. For every idea posed, he had an argument for why it wouldn’t work.

“No politicians,” he quipped after somebody suggested a local city councilor be the “celebrity guest” at our first public-facing meeting.

Thinking to myself, “Who is this guy?” I looked him up on LinkedIn to discover he’s a financial planner. My first thought was, “Wow. I sure hope he doesn’t communicate with his clients like that.”

My second thought was, “Am I like that?”

I observed my own behavior in meetings throughout the next weeks and realized that I sometimes interrupt, and because I get nervous, I tend to ramble (if you’ve been on a call with me, you know this to be true) and I might not listen as well as I should.

This experience mirrors what a few of the pieces in this month’s issue address: the importance of self-awareness and listening skills in communication.

A recent Harvard Business Review article reported the results of a survey on what makes a great listener. The survey found that effective listening is “active,” and it is successful when the other person feels heard and is energized.

We’ve all had those interactions—where we finish speaking with somebody and feel invigorated and valuable. The guy at my chapter meeting earlier this year did not provide that experience for many of us on the call.

This issue presents some great tips on how to ask better questions (see our cover article by Rachel Goldman) and on how to build client loyalty and trust (see Barbara Kay’s column). I’m working to incorporate these tips into my own communication with colleagues and members in an effort to not be that person.

Ana Trujillo Limón

Professional Conduct & Regulation
Career stage
Learning / Aspiring