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  • Writer's pictureRobert Dunn, CFP®

Navigating the Behavior Gap: Strengthening Relationships and Improving Conversations Around Money

Notebook with Behavior Fianance written
Key Takeaways
  • Acknowledge Primal Instincts: Recognize the influence of primal instincts, such as the "fight or flight" response, in both personal relationships and financial decision-making. By acknowledging these instincts, individuals can take proactive steps to regulate their emotional responses and avoid impulsive reactions driven by fear or defensiveness. 

  • Prioritize Collaboration: Shift from a defensive stance to a collaborative mindset in navigating conflicts. Prioritize understanding each other's perspectives and working towards mutual solutions, both in personal relationships and wealth management. By prioritizing empathy and collaboration, conflicts can be transformed into opportunities for growth and deeper connection. 

  • Embrace Productive Conflict Resolution: Adopt strategies for productive conflict resolution grounded in foresight, self-awareness, and new interpersonal strategies. Regulate emotional states, consider each other's interests equally, and prioritize the well-being of the relationship. By embracing productive conflict resolution, individuals can navigate the Behavior Gap with greater emotional intelligence and strengthen their financial well-being alongside their personal relationships. 

 

If you are working with a wealth manager, your personal and family well-being should be the priority. That cannot be achieved by simply rebalancing a portfolio and managing taxes. Wealth managers need to help people understand what they are experiencing and what is driving their thought process. Most wealth managers do not have the breadth of skills as a therapist, however, dealing with money and financial wellbeing can be stressful for many people. Because of this, behavioral finance – the impact of human psychology on financial decisions -- has become a significant part of what we do as financial advisors.  


fight or flight sign

There are some simple self-control techniques and conversations that can be used to prevent the “fight or flight” or “win at all costs” responses from derailing your financial plan and family relationships. Our primal desires for self-preservation date to prehistoric times. Today, we don’t have to worry about being chased by predators. But primal instincts for self-preservation show up in so many places in our lives. Investing is one area, especially in today’s volatile, uncertain markets. Your fight or flight response can also surface during tense conversations with loved ones. When being called out or threatened in some way during a family conversation, our reactions can be primal. 


In today's tumultuous world, managing the Behavior Gap in wealth management goes hand in hand with nurturing strong relationships. Much like conflicts in today's tumultuous world, managing the Behavior Gap in wealth management goes hand in hand with nurturing strong relationships. Much like conflicts in personal relationships, financial disagreements can quickly escalate, leading to misunderstandings and hurt feelings. However, Dr. Stan Tatkin, a renowned marriage and family therapist, offers valuable insights that can help navigate conflicts productively, fostering stronger connections even amidst challenges. 


Understanding Primal Instincts in Relationships 

Dr. Tatkin explains how primal instincts, triggering the "fight or flight" response, often dominate conflicts in personal relationships. Similarly, these instincts can influence financial decisions, leading to impulsive reactions driven by fear or defensiveness. By acknowledging these instincts and their impact on both personal and financial dynamics, individuals can take proactive steps to regulate their emotional responses. 


Hand hold magnifying glass with puzzle, focus on the word Prioritize. Business concept.

Shifting Perspectives and Prioritizing Relationships 

A key concept emphasized by Dr. Tatkin is the importance of shifting from a defensive stance to a collaborative mindset. Instead of focusing solely on defending individual positions, partners can prioritize understanding each other's perspectives and working towards mutual solutions. Similarly, in wealth management, clients and advisors can benefit from approaching financial discussions with empathy and a willingness to consider alternative viewpoints.  


Strategies for Productive Conflict Resolution 

Dr. Tatkin's approach emphasizes foresight, self-awareness, and new interpersonal strategies to navigate conflicts effectively. By regulating emotional states, considering each other's interests equally, and prioritizing the well-being of the relationship, partners can transform conflicts into opportunities for growth and deeper connection. This approach mirrors the collaborative efforts needed in wealth management, where clients and advisors work together to address financial challenges and achieve shared goals. 


Conclusion: Strengthening Relationships in Wealth Management 

Incorporating Dr. Stan Tatkin's insights into wealth management practices can lead to more meaningful client-advisor relationships. By recognizing and addressing primal instincts, prioritizing empathy and collaboration, and adopting strategies for productive conflict resolution, individuals can navigate the Behavior Gap with greater emotional intelligence and strengthen their financial well-being alongside their personal relationships. 


What motivates you sign on the color sheet.

Take Action: 

If you're facing financial disagreements or conflicts in your personal relationships, consider applying Dr. Tatkin's strategies for productive conflict resolution. By prioritizing understanding, empathy, and collaboration, you can transform conflicts into opportunities for growth and strengthen both your financial and personal connections. 


The blog was based on a Podcast that I recommend for listening if the subject is of interest. If you found that podcast fulfilling, I recommend this new podcast with Nobel prize-winning behavioral economist Daniel Kahneman, to help you understand why you make (or don’t make) the important decisions facing you every day, including those about your money. 


Conclusion: 

If you or someone close to you has concerns about how your wealth management relationship is being handled, please feel free to contact us at anytime.  


 

ROBERT B. DUNN, CFP® is the President and Managing Partner of Novi Wealth  

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