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Communication Essentials for Financial Planners by Joseph W. Goetz, John E. Grable

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CHAPTER 5Questioning

INTRODUCTION

The previous chapter emphasized the importance of listening. The ability to listen to what a client is saying is the most important element within the communication process. Assuming a financial planner has mastered the art of listening, the ability to ask questions is arguably the second-most important element. Questioning is really a product of the listening process. Dillon1 noted that a question communicates something in addition to what is being asked. For example, consider the following question that illustrates how presuppositions shape communication:

The person who asks this question—assuming the question is a serious one—presupposes that the other person is, in fact, a bank robber. There is no way for someone to answer this question without self-incrimination. More importantly, however, is what the question and resulting answer communicates. For the person who is asked to respond, the question is laden with presuppositions of guilt and accusation. For the person asking the question, any answer presupposes guilt.

The problem with presuppositions is that unless the underlying assumption is true, both the question and answer will cloud the communication process. To produce meaningful results within the financial planning process, questions must proceed from an honest attempt to obtain information as a mechanism to help a client. This means that questions should be honest and without trickery. ...

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