Advice That Sticks: Newsletter

Working with Clients who Repeatedly Reject Your Advice

When your job involves giving financial counsel, there will be days when you wish it didn’t. There will be times when you long for the job satisfaction that could have been yours if only you’d stuck with astrophysics, or baking cupcakes, or castrating pigs — anything that would have spared you from having the umpteenth conversation with the same clients about (fill in the blank):

A. Why you won’t buy the latest “hot stock” for their retirement account
B. Their need to get a grip on overspending
C. The folly of pulling out of the market in an effort at market timing
D. The wisdom of getting back into the market after ignoring (C)
E. The fact that you don’t, in fact, control rates of return

When having such interactions with challenging clients, most advisers just take a deep breath and carry on in the fervent hope for a more fruitful conversation next time around. But there comes a time when you recognize that this strategy is, at best, wishful thinking and, at worst, fiddling while Rome is burning.

Instead of simply hoping for better days to come, you may need to take a more active or assertive approach to the problem. Client behaviours that signal the need for direct action include:

  • unreasonable demands for your time and attention
  • repeated rejection of financially prudent fundamentals
  • constant changes and stalls on their desired course of action

Then there are the indicators that come from your own physical or emotional reactions to the client:

  • persistent dread of an upcoming meeting
  • feelings of contempt or disdain
  • sleeplessness
  • anxiety
  • fantasies about targeted meteor strikes

These internal indicators are not just inconveniences; rather, they are clarion calls to address the fact that some aspect of this client relationship is taking a toll on your well-being. At such times, you have a number of options.

Firing the client. In some cases, saying goodbye to a trying client is the only sensible and ethical thing for an advisor to do. Persistent adherence challenges are among the tip-offs that the time has come to do just that. On those occasions when you do need to remove someone from your book of business, do your best to keep the terminations respectful and cordial. Avoid adding a
layer of shame or sense of failure to either the client or yourself. In addition to making you a ‘class act’, respectful conduct helps keeps you on the right side of professional standards.

Ensure that you are adhering to all regulatory and ethical guidelines with respect to this course
of action, as well as with your firm’s own internal policies. (Wait – your firm doesn’t HAVE an
internal policy about how to fire a client? BadBadNotGood! Fix that problem first.)

Between the two poles of tolerating and firing lie the following:

Stating the obvious. This is particularly effective when you’re at an implementation standstill. By highlighting the fact that you seem to have reached an impasse, that nothing seems to be changing or moving forward in the direction that you thought you’d agreed on, you increase the odds that you can co-create a better path forward. (If you’d like some sample scripts for starting up such conversations, you can find them in Chapter 9 of my book, Advice that Sticks.)

Accepting 100% responsibility for your part of the problem. It is entirely possible that you have contributed to the problem in some way. Maybe you launched prematurely into advice-giving before truly understanding the client? Ignored your own inner voice that this person was not a good fit for your practice? Tolerated snide or deprecating remarks for many meetings in a row? Be prepared to apologize for your missteps, and to ask what they need from you if you decide to move forward together. Humility and curiosity will serve you well in any difficult conversation.

Informing them of the non-negotiables. This may become necessary not only with rude or aggressive clients, but also with those who make demands that are patently at odds with your firm’s own investment philosophy or way of doing things. A firm set of guidelines helps ambivalent clients make up their own mind about your suitability for them, and keeps them in line if they do decide to remain with you.

Figuring out what you CAN agree on. What is the client currently motivated to do that will move them towards a better life? How can you participate in that? The Plan B or Plan C that clients ARE ready to act on is far superior to the Plan A that they’re NOT up for.

Making an internal transfer. There will be times when you really do not want to lose the business of a difficult client, or when you simply do not have the authority to fire him or her (e.g. you are an employee of a bank rather than the owner of a private firm). In these cases, you should try to divvy up the contact with other team members, or transfer that client to a willing

Above all, remember this: You don’t need to keep going at it alone. Advanced training, coaching and case consultation can all be tremendously helpful here. The personal side of advising is every bit as complex as the technical aspects of advising, AND every bit as learnable. Admittedly, it takes time and effort to do that learning, but the benefits accruing to your team’s
well-being and your own job satisfaction will be well worth it in the end.

Need some ideas for further skill development? Here are some steps for you to consider

  1. Sign up for my newsletter.
  2. Explore the various offerings at the Financial Transitionist® Institute. You cannot beat the training or the learning community to be found there.
  3. Join one of my case consultation Mastermind groups. These monthly meetings include real-life advising challenges shared by group members, and related teachings from me. Contact me for more information regarding openings for new members.

The Universe’s Way of Slenderizing My Thighs? One Woman’s Search for Meaning

Some weeks back, I wrote an article about the high levels of personal depletion that I was observing all around me. The post was titled “Shot, but too stubborn to fall down”, and it received a lot of attention. It seemed that people were hungry for the psychologically sophisticated advice that was the take-home message of the article: “Fall down, dammit. Fall down, and stay there for a while. Do it voluntarily, pre-emptively, proactively, before your mind and/or your body remove all choice from you…”

So guess what I did on the weekend? I fell down, dammit. I fell down and broke my arm while enjoying a lovely morning skate at my cottage on Lake Manitoba. I got up, drove myself to the little country hospital near my cottage, bit down on a stick while they casted me, and drove back to the cabin while contemplating all the ways in which a fractured arm did not figure into my plans. Then I took the pain medication the nice doctor had given me, and all contemplation ceased for a while!

But now there’s plenty of time for pondering – time that would normally have been taken up with baking shortbread or wrapping Christmas gifts or shovelling out from the blizzard that is currently raging outside my door. Pondering is one of the few things left for me to do with my diminished wee life for the next five weeks, and I intend to do it well.

Several people have asked me already what I’m supposed to be learning from this event, what purpose it is meant to serve in my life. My inner smartass has a ready response — Clearly, keeping me from baking shortbread is the universe’s way of slenderizing my thighs – but I keep this response to myself. One doesn’t wish to appear unspiritual.

Years of being a psychologist– of bearing witness to people’s struggles to understand events ranging from the merely unexpected to the truly astonishing or shocking—have given me a different perspective on the matter of meaning. Meaning is not so much discovered, I believe, as it is created or assigned by the person who is committed to having a meaningful life. Depending on the day, that awareness is either comforting or discomfiting to me. The good news is that I can stop trying to read the unfathomable mind of the Almighty, and trust that any necessary guidance or direction will be provided to me in good time. The hard news is that, in the meantime, it’s my job to settle down and pay closer attention to my own heart and mind, to notice and to tell the truth about what’s working (or not) now that life has been altered.

So that’s what my bum arm and I will be up to over the next few weeks. I’ll be heading back to the cabin with my well-worn copy of Greg McKeown’s brilliant book, Essentialism. For the fifth or sixth year in a row, I’ll spend time reading the book and looking at what’s been emerging in both my personal and professional life. Then I will deselect and eliminate the stuff that needs to go, and commit to what is meaningful and life-giving for the year ahead.

My skates, alas, will stay in the city. But any and all offers of shortbread for the journey will be gratefully received…as will any recommendations for additional books to take along with me. What reading materials or resources do YOU take along on your purposeful planning retreats?

Shot, But Too Stubborn to Fall Down

My mom had an endless supply of pithy one-liners to describe people’s behaviours and quirks. “She’s been shot, but she’s too stubborn to fall down” is one of those lines that I’ve been reminded of multiple times lately. It refers to someone who keeps on working when they should be restoring themselves, to someone whose doggedness is no longer leading to productivity or effectiveness. Remind you of anyone you know?

Several events this week made me think of that line from my mom:

  1. Coaching sessions with several C-suite executives / business owners who began crying within seconds of the start of our calls. (Who knew that, “How are you?” could be such an evocative question?!)
  2. Therapy sessions with injured health care workers, all of whom suffered avoidable injuries by ignoring low-level pain signals in order to finish up a shift
  3. Catching sight of my own bedraggled self in the mirror, with my shirt on backwards and inside-out, just minutes after telling a colleague that I was hale and hearty

Seven months ago, a pandemic arrived, and we all hit the ground, running. We rallied everything we had to stock up, safeguard our families and employees and customers, keep our income streams going or replace work that was lost. That was all fine and good, at least for a time. Most human beings have the capacity to deal with shocking and severe stressors, and to emerge, intact and even stronger, on the other side.

But the stressors that can put the lie to that general truth are the ones that are chronic and unremitting, with no natural breaks or periods of reprieveChronic stress without recovery is what leads to emotions that won’t stay contained, to bodies that break down, to mental processes that grow sluggish and inflexible.

So here’s my best advice to you: Fall down, dammit. Fall down, and stay there for a while. Do it voluntarily, pre-emptively, proactively, before your mind and/or your body remove all choice from you. Step away from the desk; put down the tools; turn off the phone and computer.

While you’re down, think about what you need to truly restore yourself. Depending on how long it’s been since you were shot but too stubborn to attend to yourself, it might take a while to figure that out. But it will come to you, eventually. The vacuous drooling stage of recovery WILL end, and some answers will emerge. The trick is to make yourself stay down until you can tune in to those things that are calling to you from the strongest, healthiest part of yourself – that impulse to move your body, that yearning to pull out some long-neglected hobby, that calling to lean into beauty and connection. It’s all there, my friend; it’s been there all along. You just didn’t know how vital it was to attend to it. But now you do.

Article originally published on LinkedIn Oct. 16, 2020.

Families, Money and the Tincture of Tenderness

What can all of us stand to have a little more of right now? A little more tenderness, please.

A few months ago, I put out an article on my Top 10 list of Financial Skills needed for modern living. Among them was #7: Have respectful and productive conversations about money. Today I’d like to amend that recommendation, just slightly, in light of the financial stress being faced by hundreds of thousands of families: Have respectful and productive and TENDER conversations about money.

My original recommendation was meant to encompass everything from talks about co-mingling of finances to what constitutes “reasonable” spending to how much support to offer adult children. Important skill, indeed. Without that skill, assumptions run rampant, and the ability of the family to prosper relationally AND financially is compromised.

Now, more than ever, money conversations do need to be happening within our families. Change demands accommodation. Formerly wise decisions may well need to be discarded and remade in light of new realities. But we all need to dial back on the … shall we say… earnestness of those money talks right about now.

What spurs me to write this article are the dozens of requests for media interviews filling up my email inbox every week. It’s clear that, around the globe, families are reeling from the effects of direct and indirect financial stress. Even if current earnings are unaffected in a given household, indirect financial stress enters via the empathy and worry people have for laid-off loved ones and co-workers and complete strangers; it comes from the constant wondering about whether or when it might be that household’s own turn to experience financial hardship.

And in families where earnings are reduced and/or debts are mounting, the effects of financial stress are often more immediate and observable: disorientation and grief stemming from economically-mandated changes in routine; fretfulness over dwindling cash reserves, foodstuffs, and the other commodities necessary to keep a family afloat; sleeplessness; an inability to settle oneself, both physically and emotionally.

The end result of this financial stress is often an increase in conflict. With everyone feeling a little more ragged and tense than usual, it is all too easy to let loose with harsh pronouncements and critical commentaries. Researchers have been telling us for some time that marital conflicts about money have the potential to be especially damaging. Financial disagreements are associated with nastier fighting techniques and poorer relational outcomes. That’s why the tincture of tenderness is essential today.

How can we set ourselves up to have respectful and productive and tender money conversations? Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  1. Set aside a specific time to deal with a given financial issue. I’m usually a big fan of spontaneity, but not for money conversations between depleted, stressed-out people.
  2. Mutually decide ahead of time what should be on the agenda. Keep that agenda short and sweet — shorter than you think it should be, and sweeter than you might be feeling. Better to have several short and successful meetings than one mondo discussion that risks leaving everyone raw and alienated.
  3. Make a point of truly settling yourself, emotionally and physically, before starting the discussion. Don’t just distract or numb out; instead, really give yourself what you need to get into a calm space. Listen to or make music. Exercise. Read or listen to something that reminds you of what matters in family life, and tap into the spirit of love and compassion (or lightheartedness and hilarity!) that such material revives in you.

Across cultures and classes, humans tend to reserve their best levels of self-control and politeness for people outside their home. The people closest to us get the leftovers. These days, that might not be so pretty! But with a little bit of foresight and intentionality, and a commitment to staying respectful, productive, and tender, we can help ensure that financial stress does not undo our most important ties.

There are lots of great resources to help individuals and families solve money dilemmas. Here are two of my current favourites:

The Ellevest newsletter – Sallie Krawchuk and her team keep it real and keep it relevant.

Kelley Keehn’s Talk Money to Me. A soup-to-nuts treatment of personal finance.

Sending you all a big bottle of the tincture of tenderness.

Advising Anxious, Angry or AWOL Clients

Now, more than ever, the personal side of advising matters.
Are you ready to up your game?

Live Webinar with Financial Psychologist Dr. Moira Somers on
Advising Anxious, Angry or AWOL Clients

Here’s what my work has taught me: Nothing draws the emotion out of people faster than money. This is true even at the best of times. And now is not the best of times.

It is, however, a superb time for financial advisors to demonstrate exceptional value to their clients, to those people who have entrusted them with so much.

In this Webinar with the author of Advice that Sticks: How to Give Financial Advice that People Will Follow, you will learn practical, evidence-based strategies for:

  • Talking to upset clients so that they will settle faster and more completely
  • Figuring out your client’s primary coping style
  • Helping to prevent regrettable decisions
  • Contributing to client well-being
  • Working with your own heightened emotions
Thursday, April 2nd at 2-3pm CT
Click here to join us on April 2nd

Top 10 Financial Skills Needed for 21st Century Well-being

What families (including yours) need to know                                                             

There have been a lot of  transitions in my household over the past year, with more yet to come. Some of these Big Life Events have been long anticipated and much celebrated; others have simply arrived out of the blue, and have ushered in as much joy as a bunion.

One thing these events have had in common? They’ve all had financial implications – not just for money management (that’s been the relatively easy part, actually), but for expectation management between and across the generations.

While navigating these expectations, I pulled out a  list I created some time ago for the advisers and families I consult to. The list was my take on the most important financial skills needed for modern families. It was a helpful reminder to stay on top of what my own family needs to know and do. It was also an occasion to update it, in light of such things as growing rates of mental health problems and dementia, the endless ingenuity of fraudsters and scam artists, and the travails of our planet.  Here is my Top 10 list of 21stCentury Financial Skills:

    1. Develop marketable skills

    2. Earn sufficiently

    3. Save regularly

    4. Spend wisely

    5. Handle credit

    6. Invest, earn, give and purchase sustainably

    7. Have respectful and productive money conversations

    8. Safeguard your dependents and your assets

    9. Use money to help people and causes

    10. Arrange for wealth transfer

Give the list even the quickest of once-overs, and you’ll see that these items are not simply fact-based ones. If you’re a financial adviser or a financial literacy teacher, you can’t just stick these items in a newsletter or exam and then rest assured that the readers will be equipped to make good decisions forevermore. If you’re a parent, you can’t just give Lecture #438 and assume the kids have learned what they need. That’s because every single one of these life skills needs to be paired with emotional intelligence in order to come to life. For example:

Earning adequately requires self-respect and good reality testing;

Spending wisely requires impulse control and emotional self-awareness;

Having good money conversations requires empathy and courage of conviction; and

Using money to help others requires social consciousness and healthy boundaries.

Fortunately, family life is one of the most natural places to bring together emotional intelligence and money management skills. Any time we open up about the financial gaffs we’ve made, or the values we hold deeply, or what helps or hinders our progress towards our goals, we’re cultivating a skillset that is crucial for modern life.

Whether you’re working with other people’s families or are neck-deep in the delights of your own, it’s helpful to keep in mind the developmental nature of these skills. The items on my list are the task of a lifetime. They are not even remotely done with by the time a child leaves home; indeed, they take us to the end of our days.

So take heart: Everyone can get better at this stuff! Things like empathy, communication, and self-regulation can improve with effort and (often, but not always) with age. And there are always skilled professionals – therapists; accountants; clergy; lawyers; financial planners– who can help us when we slip up, get stuck, or lose the path. The more such people we have in our network, the better equipped we are to help others and ourselves.

One of the aphorisms of the Financial Transitionist® Institute is, When life changes, money changes; and when money changes, life changes. My household’s recent transition events have given me a renewed appreciation of this proverb. As we enter a new decade, I wish you, your family, and the families you serve the same thing I wish for my own: May you navigate life’s changes with skill and grace and tenderness…and a whole lot of laughter.

Interested in learning more about the various stages of money maturity? I’ve found no better book than Joline Godfrey’s Raising Financially Fit Kids.


Got clients or workers in distress? Got people who are distressing you? You’re in luck!

When it comes to accessing mental health treatment, timing can be everything… AND NOW’S THE TIME! (But not for the reasons you might think.)

Nothing says “Time for Therapy” more than the last few months of the year. You can likely guess some of the more common reasons why that’s so. Here in the northern hemisphere, for example, when the days grow shorter and the skies get gloomy, moods can darken, too. All around the globe, work stress mounts as people scramble to finish major projects before year end. And then, of course, there’s all that extra time spent in the warm prickly embrace of extended family. (That’s why my favourite seasonal game is Martha Beck’s Dysfunctional Family Bingo. You only win if your family is crazy, and I always win.)

But one of the major benefits of getting therapy at this time of year has to do with paying for treatment. Most private benefits plans run on the basis of a calendar year. Any funding that hasn’t been used by December 31, 2019 simply vanishes. On January 1, 2020, employees with benefits packages have access to a new pool of funds that will have to see them through the next 12 months.

By booking a series of therapy appointments between November of one year and February or March of the next, your employees or clients may be able to access two years’ worth of benefits in a short period of time. Timing wise, that’s the equivalent of doubling the number of sessions they’re eligible for. (A typical benefits package will cover 2 to 3 sessions for 2019 and 2 or 3 for 2020. These can all be used in a period of a few months.)

Admittedly, that still falls short of the 8 to 10 sessions typically required to treat depression and anxiety; nevertheless, a lot of good work can be done in a compressed period of time with a practitioner who is (a) skilled in short-term treatment approaches and (b) aware of the client’s funding limitations. If the therapy has been proving useful, many people then find ways to self-fund additional sessions. (An encouraging word from family, friends or financial advisors can help them feel confident of their ability to absorb such costs, especially when considered against the costs of NOT getting help.)

Some of the readers of this article are in positions of power within private industry, insurance companies, and Human Resources departments, and it’s to them that I address this paragraph. Most employee benefits packages are woefully inadequate when it comes to coverage for serious mental health concerns (e.g. suicidality, addictions, etc.).Typical packages that I see in Canada provide only $350 to $450 of psychological treatment per calendar year. That amount hasn’t changed appreciably in 25 years. Meanwhile, what is the fastest growing cause of short-term and long-term vocational disability? You guessed it: mental health issues. Disability insurance companies should be throwing money into psychological health care benefits packages if they’re serious about reducing longterm costs, and HR departments should be demanding much more mental health coverage from their benefits providers. If you’ve got the power to influence such matters, please do. This article might give you some ideas.

For the rest of you, let me just encourage you to be champions of mental well-being. Take care of your own mental health and happiness. Look into taking a mental health first aid course so you can sit more compassionately with people in distress. Consider giving time and money to community organizations that are on the front lines of service delivery.

Eggnog plus year-end reports plus psychotherapy. It’s a winning combination. You might want to suggest it at your next family gathering.

My Best-Ever Productivity Hack

What do a retired navy captain, a rubber duck, and a women’s leadership expert have in common?

They’re all productivity superheroes – at least, they are for me.

Like many of you reading this newsletter, I have to create new content on a regular basis. Not producing is not an option. My executive coaching clients need me to follow up on our calls with assignments and written reflections. The conferences that hire me need new keynotes and workshops. My website howls for blogs and updates.

But after I published my book, Advice that Sticks, I hit a slump. Perhaps it was the writer’s equivalent of post-partum blues, but I just couldn’t muster the enthusiasm to write. Unless there was a gun in the form of a deadline pointed at my head, I was finding it really hard to produce anything.

I needed that to change. I decided to take a page out of my own doctoral thesis on procrastination (which I did, indeed, finish!), and stop relying on the fickleness of willpower and/or the stress of last-minute brinksmanship to get things done. I needed, instead, to harness some more reliable human strengths – say, the power of habit, or the power of positivity.

So it was that, several months ago, I invited an unlikely trio to form a virtual writing group with me. We settled on Friday mornings as the time to get stuff out of our heads and into the world. Permit me to introduce you to the crew who have become my productivity hacks:

Dr. David Kloak is a former Navy Captain and chaplain. He’s now an executive career coach with a great big intellect and an even bigger heart. Dave sees synchronicities and creates connections between seemingly disparate fields of work and ideas and people. The guy is an incubator for ideas.

Dr. Mira Brancu is an expert in women’s leadership development, with special savvy in navigating large and complex organizations. She’s a blogger and writer of remarkable quality, someone who has the great gifts of encouragement and insight in equal proportions. Mira gets kind of ferocious, however, when she catches even a whiff of perfectionism. She’ll have none of that.

A yellow rubber duck with an orange beak

Then there’s my buddy, the rubber duck. I don’t know much about him, sorry to say, other than he’s a Chinese expatriate. Unlike Mira and Dave, he’s intellectually dense and doesn’t do a whole heck of a lot. But he IS cute and he IS a superb listener, and thus has a vital role in my Friday mornings.

We’ve figured out a great routine, the good doctors and the duck and I. First, we connect on Skype for five minutes to set our intentions for the next two hours. We check in an hour later to give an update and ask for any quick help we might need. We Skype again at the end of the second hour to report on progress and wish each other well in the week ahead.

The duck doesn’t actually participate IN the calls; he is, however, ON call to haul me out of trouble in my writing. Talking to the duck is a strategy I learned from Daniel Pink in one his earliest Pinkcasts. When I am getting bogged down in my tendency to be abstrusepedantic, or byzantine, I explain the passage to the duck, who insists on plain and simple and direct. He’s annoyingly relentless about it. That’s a good quality in a productivity superhero.

Accountability, routine, delightful companions, and an uncompromising insistence on keeping it simple – these are the elements of a writing practice that feels less like gun-to-the-head and more like so-glad-to-be-here. They’re the reason I don’t even think about blowing off writing time any more.

I’m currently experimenting with similar ideas for getting to the gym more often. The duck is willing to give it a go. Both of us need to slenderize our thighs. (It’s probably all that time we spend writing.)

The Shocking Reality of Giving Financial Advice

The more that I work with people and their money, the more I am reminded of electricity. Money carries with it an incredible emotional charge, with the result that financial professionals must work daily with the emotional equivalent of live electrical wires. Most days, we emerge unscathed. Other days, we arrive home somewhat scorched.

In my practice as a wealth psychologist, I find that the emotional charge around money most often goes into the High Voltage Zone when parents talk about financial issues surrounding their kids (especially adult kids who are struggling in some way). It also makes itself known as clients talk about taxes, fees, inheritances, rates of return on investments, which party in the marriage is “right” in his or her view of things, and all manner of purchases, gifts, and expenditures.

We can all get zapped by the emotional current that flows through money. We can find ourselves tensing in anticipation of meeting with clients who have given us static during previous encounters. Our excellent financial advice can get burned to a crisp by the emotions surrounding money AND by the unskilled handling of them.

It’s not just clients’ emotions about money that can zap us; our own feelings can, too. I was zapped unexpectedly just this week while visiting a beautiful hotel, when my experience of delight and gratitude did an abrupt back-flip into guilt and unworthiness.  Advisers tell me about having strong emotions of their own, triggered by events including clients’ overspending or underearning, a colleague’s landing of a big account, or their own teenagers’ apparent lack of appreciation for how good they’ve got it.

Whether talking about clients or themselves, financial professionals have a tendency to view emotion as the enemy. One of my own favourite books, Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow, has contributed to the unfortunate demonizing of emotion in our community. Emotions mess with good financial decision-making, we are told. They make us short-sighted, they contribute to bias, and they lead us to overlook vitally important information.

Yup, they do. And electricity causes fires and can blow holes in a body. No doubt about it.

But just as we don’t dispute the tremendous benefits of electricity, so, too, we shouldn’t demonize the energy that exists around money. Emotion itself is not the problem, here. It’s just the sway of short-term emotions that we need to be on guard for, so that we don’t over-react to temporary or irrelevant stuff.

Emotion is a valuable force that can be harnessed to accomplish important goals in clients’ financial lives. It undergirds their beliefs and their values, and signals them when something is threatening those things. It provides motivation to begin their journey towards financial security, and helps them persist in the face of setbacks. Emotion leads people to buy life insurance and write wills. It funds symphonies and ballets and theatres. It feeds the hungry.

So what should you do when you get zapped? The most important thing is to acknowledge the presence of strong emotion. If you’re with clients, say something like, “It seems that we’re onto something important here. Tell me what this issue means to you. What do I need to understand about this in order to be a good adviser to you?”

If you’re on your own when you get zapped, resist the urge to dismiss, blunt or even analyze your reaction. Just notice it with curiosity and compassion. Give it the full force of your attention, and wait for it to subside. Then you can begin the work of figuring out what, if anything, you are being signalled to pay attention to. It might be really important. Or, as Ebenezer Scrooge says, it could just be a bit of undigested beef.

Best not to confuse the two.