The Power of Being Heard: Insights into Effective Advice

The Power of Being Heard: Insights into Effective Advice

June 05, 2024

In recent discussions with fellow advisors, a poignant truth emerged, encapsulated in a simple yet profound statement: "People don't listen until they feel heard." This insight resonates deeply within the context of advice-giving, a domain where expertise and experience are often expected to command automatic attention and compliance. However, reality paints a different picture—one where the act of listening becomes as crucial as the advice itself.

The Essence of Being Heard

It’s a common scenario: an advisor shares wisdom accumulated from years of experience, yet finds it frustratingly dismissed or ignored. This can lead to doubts about one's value and the relevance of one's advice. Yet, this challenge often stems not from the quality of the advice but from the relational dynamic between the advisor and the recipient.

The core of effective communication, especially in advisory roles, lies in making the other party feel heard and understood. This isn't just about hearing their words but truly understanding their emotions, contexts, and underlying needs. It’s about acknowledging that while we as advisors bring valuable insights, our primary role is to ensure that these insights resonate on a personal level for those we aim to help.

Building Connections through Empathy

Creating a connection through empathy is the first step in transforming advice into actionable insights that individuals feel compelled to follow. This connection fosters a safe environment where clients feel valued and understood, not just as recipients of advice but as partners in a collaborative journey towards their goals.

In practice, this involves more than just listening. It requires active engagement: asking questions, reflecting on what is heard, and adjusting our approach based on the feedback received. This process not only enhances understanding but also builds trust, a crucial element in any advisory relationship.

The Role of Emotional Recall in Advice-Giving

Our interactions are not just transactions of knowledge or recommendations; they are exchanges that can leave lasting emotional imprints. People may forget the specific details of what was done or said, but they will remember how we made them feel—whether heard, respected, and secure, or otherwise. This emotional recall can significantly influence how advice is received and acted upon.

To integrate empathy strategically, we must see every interaction as a unique opportunity to affirm our clients' worth and concerns. This means treating every meeting as the most important one, regardless of its routine nature. We might interact with multiple clients daily, but for each client, that interaction could be a defining moment in their journey.

Embracing the Human Element in Advice

As we continue to navigate the complexities of advisory roles, we remember the fundamental truth that effective communication begins with empathy. By ensuring our clients feel heard, we not only enhance our ability to provide impactful advice but also deepen our relationships, making every piece of guidance more likely to be embraced and implemented. In the landscape of advice, where knowledge and experience are abundant, the ability to make others feel heard and understood is what truly differentiates the impactful advisor from the rest.


Mark J. Modzeleski, CFS, CLTC, AIF  

President, Legacy Wealth Advisors of NY