Lessons for Financial Advisers From a Voice Coach

Insights include how to disagree without being disagreeable—and how to be benevolent, professional and courteous while still getting the job done.

By DJ Shaw

Clear communication is what Miluna Fausch says saved her life 17 years ago, when doctors discovered a fist-sized tumor in the right side of her head.

That experience is what inspired the communication coach to share her story in her new book, “Uplevel Your Communication: Evolve Your Presence and Speech to Change Everything.” Fausch says many of the lessons in her book should be of use to financial advisers and benefits professionals, who must navigate a professional world that is equal parts demanding, technical and personal.

She wrote the book for “heart-centered business people and entrepreneurs,” to help them communicate effectively and with civility and respect. It took 17 years, but after recovering from her tumor and spending her life “learning her voice” and how to speak correctly and intentionally, she was committed to writing a book that would make a difference.

“We just don’t know how much our story can help someone else and inspire them,” Fausch says. “And I actually thought, ‘You know what, I do have something to say. I have a very unique perspective on voice and communication.’”

Fausch says she wrote a book that would teach others how to disagree without being disagreeable, and how to benevolent, professional and courteous while still getting the job done.

“It’s for all those folks who are leading companies and movements that want to speak at their very, very best,” Fausch says. “They want to show up, they speak deliberately, and they present like a rock star.”

Last week, Fausch spoke with PLANADVISER to offer tips to financial advisers on different techniques they can use to be successful and maintain relationships with their clients. Recounted below are some highlights from the discussion.

The Literal Voice

“The financial professional needs to speak calmly, with a steady voice,” Fausch says. “If we are in tough spots, or we just lost money in the market, we need calm and steady support, all day long. Therefore, I’m going to establish a very calm and steady tone. My tone is not going to go up a lot, my pitch is not going to vary a lot, especially if I am delivering bad news.

“What does that do? It makes me feel like I can trust you, that you are in a good place of mind as my adviser, and that you care about me at the same time—so it’s not just a transaction. We used to say we do business with those we know, like and trust. Today, trust is now number one on that list, because we are not in a very trusting place in the United States or the world.

“A calm, steady and professional tone helps to demonstrate that I know what I’m doing, as an adviser. It also shows courtesy when I speak like this. It shows benevolence, and a desire for positive outcomes for the client and for their finances.”

Deliberate Words

“When I coach my clients, we don’t use the word try,” Fausch says. “If I need to express something I am working on, I might say ‘I am attempting to do this,’ or ‘I am working to do this.’ There is no try. Either we are doing something, or we are not. I am also bothered by words like ‘could,’ ‘should’ or ‘would,’ because they sound like blaming or like they are in the past tense. They really serve no purpose when it comes to creative confidence.

“Filler words are a deal breaker—words like um, so, like or you know. This language shows that you are not fully connected. You are not really in the room with me, your client. It says that you are in your head. This language says that you might be uncomfortable.

“Generally, we are so distracted. That phone is beeping, that email is demanding your attention. Our real job is to be in the moment with the client. The more we get rid of those words that don’t mean a thing, the deeper the client connection will be. Our language can create trust because the client can hear your deliberateness, your intention and your purpose.”

Pace Matching

“My speaking is extremely slow, on purpose, because I used to speak very fast, and that was not useful,” Fausch says. “Pace matching may be important if someone you are working with is a little slower in their speech, or let’s say they are from a region in the U.S. where it is normal to talk a little slower—or perhaps they are just a little more laid back. Not everyone is going to have the energy of let’s say, your typical person from New York City, or something like that. You might have to slow down your pace a bit in some circumstances.

“Meeting people where they are shows that you have the emotional intelligence, that you have the self-awareness to read the room. It just helps us connect better and deeper with our clients. It helps them to feel like I really am listening—and of course this is done completely on purpose and with respect, not to mock or to mimic, but to have us align.”

Active Listening

“A lot of folks don’t really listen. Listen to how the person is responding if they’re not responding well that means we need to tweak our delivery.

We need to shift our words and we really need to actively listen. Perhaps we take notes for a minute, so that we’re not just thinking of ‘when can I get my thoughts in there? When can I speak? If I don’t hurry up, I’m going to forget my words.’ And of course, that leads to massive interruption—and most of us are used to it but we don’t love it.

People will reveal who they are if we’ll just listen and believe it.

Let them tell you their story, which most people will, anyway, we like to talk about ourselves, and then respond according to what they said. It’s probably revealed their values which you’re writing down or recording.”