Is it a joy or a burden talking with you?

The way we build, and the way we burn bridges…

3 min read

Matthew Jarvis
Financial Planner, CFP®

As I type this, I’m on a flight to La Paz, Mexico, for a couple of days of brainstorming and mountain biking with a rock-star advisor, Stephen Duck, from New Mexico. Unless you know Stephen personally, you’ll never hear about it as he’s not a main stage kind of guy. This is not because he isn’t a rock star advisor with a rock-star practice, but rather because he’s too busy delivering massive value to clients and living a highly intentional life to be bothered with stuff like that. 🙂

Because I choose to fly a lot, I’ve got my fair share of… interesting… flying experiences, but today’s takes the cake. As I was going to put my bag in the overhead bin, I noticed that the person before had put their bags in incorrectly. Hardly unusual, I began adjusting a couple of bags so that mine would fit. Suddenly the guy across the aisle yelled at me ‘DON’T TOUCH MY BAGS”. Being that it was a 5 am flight, I was startled by the amount of anger being directed my way. I responded, “Sir, your bag is not in the bin correctly, and I’m adjusting it so everything will fit.” Again he yells, ‘DON’T TOUCH MY BAG.’ By this time, two flight attendants, having heard the commotion arrive, grab his bag and throw it into the bin over his head, give him the stink-eye and apologize to me for the hassle.


Now, this guy was clearly way out of line, and I suppose I had every ‘right’ to respond to his anger with my own (believe me, I was tempted to do so), but what would I have gained by doing so? Sure my ego would have been stroked putting this guy in his place, but to what end? Either way, by responding professionally, the flight attendants immediately took my side.

What does this have to do with you and financial planning? Being with an upset client or a vendor that screwed something up, if you come in guns blazing, MAYBE you’ll get your way, but you will have burned a bridge. If instead, you come in as a problem solver full of positive energy, you have a much higher chance of success, you’ll BUILD relationship capital, AND it will make you a happier person.

This is not to say you need to be a wimp or not get your way. More on that tomorrow.

ACTION ITEM: Always look for opportunities to de-escalate.

HOW ABOUT YOU: What’s your go-to response when someone approaches you with anger or frustration?

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