Let's examine this shift in perception through a case scenario.

An advisor came to me because he had noticed a pattern of lost clients. As he explained how he lost four different clients and we examined each scenario, we discovered a similarity in the clients' behavior. "Complainers," the advisor said. "To tell you the truth, they were difficult to work with. Their attitudes were negative. I attempted various positive-thinking techniques with each but to no effect. I just may not be able to work with a certain kind of wealthy personality."

I encouraged the advisor to detail the types of "complaints" these clients lodged. But what became clear was the underlying discomfort in the advisor-he was thinking about them in terms of the "freedom balloon." He unconsciously expected the clients to be grateful about their wealth and therefore felt irritated when they expressed frustration about their rich lifestyles.

"I know what happened," the advisor said. "I stopped listening. In each case, with all four of these clients, I started trying to fix their attitudes and tell them what to do."

When he shifted his perspective to the "intensity" of wealth, his interpretation of these clients changed dramatically. He saw how the complaints were clues to the areas in which the clients felt stretched and strained. Complaints are actually invitations, nuggets of opportunity for the advisor to penetrate client needs more deeply.

There are many conversational arenas in which the wealthy client can show symptoms of wealth intensity. The vigilant advisor, when listening for "stretch and strain," shifts the internal judgments that create a barrier to effective service.

Do your clients make comments about themselves that convey a superior or inferior attitude toward others? When they talk, do you notice they put others down or do they convey a need to be rescued? Do you feel guarded or patronized? Or perhaps you feel the opposite and notice a pull to teach or help them? These types of reactions may signal your client is feeling the symptoms of wealth intensity in the arena of identity.

Take careful notice of the thoughts and interpretations happening during your interactions. It is useful to jot notes down immediately following a conversation. Look for patterns in your own reactions to the client. Your inner monologue will give you vital information and guide you to make successful adjustments.

When you adjust your internal reaction to a challenging client, you take control of the underlying conflicts that sabotage your effectiveness.
Gaining insight into your expectations of the client is the first step. The second step is to further refine your listening skills.

It may seem too simple, but deep listening is what each of us wants. If we are heard, seen and validated on a deep level, we build a bridge of trust. Clients want to trust, want to give advisors their confidence. Trust comes slowly, though. The vulnerability a wealth holder feels is often not evident to an advisor for years. But that vulnerability is always underneath the surface.