On Communication

The high school where I passed my teenage years was small.  The result was that there were not enough players for the senior basketball team.  However, you need ten to practice so there was always someone who was not quite ready for the level of competition.


I distinctly recall a game where we were well ahead with about three minutes left to play.  Coach decided that the lead was safe even if Frankie was on the floor so in he came.

I grabbed a rebound and made the outlet pass to Frankie.  It hit him in the chest and went out of bounds.  Next stoppage coach pulled me.

“C’mon coach.  It hit him in the chest.  Not my fault.”

“Yes, it was.  You should have known he couldn’t catch it.”

Like a 50-page financial plan.  The client will not catch it and it is the adviser’s fault.

Good communication requires several things:.

  1. Deliver an accurate, clear portrayal of the problem/opportunity and its solution.
  2. Aim it to the client’s experience and skill set.
  3. Make it as simple as it can be but neither mislead nor trivialize the problem or its solution
  4. If you cannot meet those three, spend time on improving the client’s skills.

When you communicate with the client at their level, you get decisions they remember and can implement even if the underlying assumptions change a little.  They are willing to participate in reviews and know how to allocate new resources.  They are part of the process.  Those all benefit both the client and  the adviser.

In any communication, as in basketball, the sender of the communication is solely responsible for its completion.

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