How Perfectionism Damages Effective Client Communication

This week I learned a lesson about perfectionism.

It was one of those ‘learning moments’ I’d prefer not to have, if I’m completely honest. But if it’s at least somewhat instructive for you, then at least some good can come of it.

To set the stage, and as you may know, I spend quite a bit of time writing – for this blog, for other publications or in the development of my presentations. It’s an important part of how I communicate and connect with advisors.

The reason I do this doesn’t just apply to my communications strategy, but to yours. Here’s why I think that’s the case.

  • I believe meaningful content (a.k.a. thought leadership) is a critical part of the communication plan for advisors.
  • I believe that when you create content that’s more about the needs and challenges of your clients, than about the solutions you offer, drives engagement.
  • I believe in creating content that authentically reflects who you really are, not some version of who you want the world to see.

As important as all of this, I also believe that a good content strategy creates connection. Personally, I’ve never felt connected to someone because they had a great brochure. I’ve connected with someone because I read an article he or she wrote, watched a video that let me see that person in action, saw an interview or read a blog. And I’ve connected also because the communication was on-going and consistent.

Back to the story…..

Other than when I’m on stage, I’ve managed to stick to writing as a means of sharing ideas. Of course, I know there are other formats I could use and I often suggest that to others. When advisors share their stories with me, I’m always telling them to turn a camera on and share it with the world because it’s more compelling and creates real connection.  No one tells your story like you!

So the team gave me a dose of my own medicine and suggested that we should use video to send a message to the folks who have kindly bought my book, to help them take action on the concepts. They know I’m passionate about it and suggested this would be the best way to let people know why I believe this concept matter. In a moment of weakness, I agreed.

So what’s the problem?

The problem was that when I thought about turning on the camera, every part of me rebelled. How will I look? What if I stumble on my words? How will we shoot it? What about the lights and the sound? You get the picture. I put up as many obstacles as possible to get out of it, entirely subconsciously.

On reflection, I knew I was allowing perfectionism get in the way of meaningful communication and conversation. I’m sure it started in childhood, but I won’t bore you with the details.

Can you relate? Do you communicate less frequently (or perhaps less authentically) because you think it needs to be perfect?  What opportunities are you missing as a result?

So yesterday I sat at my desk, turned the iPhone camera on and just did it. Like it or hate it, this was the result.

Your Communications Plan

I don’t share this to suggest you need to create videos for clients or prospects. It’s not for everyone and I realize there are restrictions, for some advisors, that need to be considered.

Rather, I’m sharing this to ask you to communicate more with clients, to share your ideas and yourself and to knock perfectionism on the head if that’s what is getting in your way. Find your natural form of communication and take action.

Communication that’s more frequent, more focused on client needs and more reflective of who you are, builds engagement, enhances trust and lays the foundation for more referrals.

  • You don’t need to write the perfect article. You just need to communicate your ideas, whether that’s through a series of quick tips, an in-depth article or a Q&A style article.
  • You don’t need to create the perfect video. You just need to let clients see who you are and how you can help. There are times when a professionally produced video may be in order, but for now, can you look at the camera and share an idea?
  • You don’t need to deliver the perfect webinar. Clients are hungry for relevant education and you can help.

If we can accept progress over perfectionism, I think we’ll all be better off. In that spirit, consider the following:

  1. What three questions do you get most often from your clients? (Those are your topics.)
  2. What is your most natural form of communication? (That’s your format.)
  3. When will you create one piece of content that answers one question in your most comfortable format? (Write it down.)

If you’re stuck, here’s a thought. Write an article or record a video that describes why you got into this business. Your ‘why’ is powerful and a pretty good place to start.  Better still, no one knows that story or can communicate that story in the same way as you.

Thanks for stopping by,

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3 Responses to How Perfectionism Damages Effective Client Communication

  1. Maura August 15, 2017 at 5:02 pm #

    Thanks Julie, this post really resonated with me! Perfectionism can be such an obstacle.

  2. Marti Barletta August 18, 2017 at 12:08 am #

    First of all – GREAT video! Looking at how well it came out, it’s amazing to hear how hard it was at first! I’m a subscriber and I really admire your work. Always excellent content, well thought out and well written. Thank you!

    • Julie Littlechild
      Julie Littlechild August 21, 2017 at 6:52 pm #

      Thanks Marti! I really appreciate the feedback and the kind words. Things are never as hard as they seem in our heads!

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