Could your communication skills save your life? The answer is "Yes!" according to Capt. Charlie Plumb, a Vietnam veteran and my colleague in the Speakers Roundtable, an association of speakers, authors and business consultants.

Plumb survived six and a half years in a Vietnamese prisoner of war camp-the Hanoi Hilton. The same luxury accommodations enjoyed by U.S. senator and presidential candidate John McCain. Only Charlie was there longer. Here's what he has to say about communication:

I had been through the survival schools in the military and been told repeatedly that if I were a prisoner of war to 'maintain contact with my fellow POWs.' I thought this was very logical. How else could we pass along the escape plans? Much to my surprise, the 'life saving' value of communication in the camps wasn't the information we were passing around, but the simple validation of another human being. After months of solitary confinement in a very dark cell, a person loses track of ones very existence. There is no sounding board ... no feedback ... nothing to prove that you are real. The simple tapping on a wall (shave-and-a-haircut?) and the response (six-bits) proves your existence.  Someone is responding to you!

The point for a financial advisor, he says, is this: "It's not the 'data' that's the important part of the communication process. It's the simple validation of an individual and their pain." (You can read Plumb's inspiring story at

You may never rely on your communication skills to save your life. However, they are the key to whether or not prospects and clients trust you, whether or not they move all of their money and financial affairs to you, whether or not they follow your advice, whether or not they stick with you during challenging times, and whether or not they refer and introduce you to others.

Yes, communication skills are vital for financial advisors. What you say, how you say it and when you say it can make all the difference in the world to your success, failure or mediocrity.

In this article I will introduce you to some of the best and brightest communicators I know and their relevant ideas. You'll get some of their "nuggets" and I'll refer you to their books and Web sites so you can explore further the ideas that resonate with you.

Bert Decker, author of You've Got To Be Believed To Be Heard and the creator of the Decker Communications class (, says, "the quality of your communication determines the quality of your life."

Patricia Fripp, another author I admire for her relentless pursuit of accurate, articulate, and specific communication, likes to quote one of her own mentors, David Palmer, who says, "Specificity leads to credibility."

Fripp often asks: How specific is your communication? How often do you use substitute words like "stuff" for the actual word that accurately describes what you mean to say? How often do you say things like "kinda" or "sorta" or other ambiguous words that make you sound like you really don't know what you are talking about? How much more compelling could you make your communications by being more precise with your words? Go to to download excellent articles about being a better, more precise communicator.

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