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Step Away From The Keyboard

14 March 2023

FINANCIAL PLANNERS You know you’re in trouble when you receive an email from a client IN CAPITAL LETTERS…

And if it includes EXCLAMATION MARKS‼️ – then it’s normally big trouble.

And, if some of the letters are in red, well, it’s going to be messy.

So what to do?

Well, there are 3 things that you absolutely should NOT do and 3 things you should ABSOLUTELY do.

Firstly, we need to understand why emailing can empower such an argy-bargy attitude in people that wouldn’t say boo to a goose face-to-face?

Emails create a safe barrier between the sender and the receiver, which emboldens aggression from the sender – safe in the knowledge that they don’t have to look the person in the eye and deal with any immediate consequences (like reciprocal aggression).

That’s why if someone cuts you up in their car at a roundabout, you will call them all the names under the sun—from the safety of your car.

Yet if the same person accidentally bumped your trolley in the checkout queue at Tesco, you’d probably impulsively apologise to them for just existing.

Same situation—the only difference was the lack of a barrier—and that influenced how you reacted.

And angry client emails are the same.

You may often receive one late at night after you’ve had a long session with the client earlier that day, or perhaps on a Sunday morning while they’re reading the financial papers.

Either way, they’re not actually angry with you.

  • They’re just scared or confused.
  • Which leads to anxiety.
  • Which leads to a need for comfort.
  • Which leads us to seek attention.
  • Which prompts a sulk or a tantrum to attract it.

Admit it, we’ve all done it.

And if you can recognise this, then you’re halfway there.

The harder part is to control your natural reflex to ‘be super helpful and responsive’ meaning you may feel the need to.

  • Respond Straight away… to be responsive.
  • Try and answer their (multiple) questions… to be helpful.
  • Reply by email…..because it seems the most convenient.

You think you’re helping by providing a good service and rational thinking.

But what you’re actually doing is putting logs on the anxiety fire.

If you do respond quickly with attempted answers by email, the chances are you will get a follow-up email with further questions, and this will continue in an ever-increasing tailspin into a full-on fallout or misunderstanding.

The problem is that you’re giving rational responses to irrational fears and emotions.


  • Do not respond straight away, give it a little time.
  • When you do respond, thank them for their questions, reassure them that you can answer them, and ask them to arrange a time for a phone call or meeting to do so.
  • Do not under any circumstances, try to answer the questions by email.

And the irony is, in a couple of days’ time, the thought of ringing you to discuss the questions (which they’ve already forgotten) will probably feel unnecessary. Either way, the possible outcomes are now either…

  • They come in to see you face-to-face to discuss the issues, and you resolve them.
  • They telephone you to discuss the issues, and you resolve them.
  • They realise in a few days’ time that it’s no longer important to them.

And not a RED CAPITAL LETTER in sight. – Software, Training & Business Services for Financial Planners.


  • End-to-End Lifestyle Financial Planning Process & Software
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