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By David RichmanNational Director, Eaton Vance Advisor Institute

After 16 months of quarantine, social distancing and working remotely, you will likely be gathering in person again this summer. What an opportunity to reconnect and make new acquaintances. Whether at the beach, neighborhood gatherings or even back in the office, how can you make these first encounters count?

My long departed and deeply beloved, mother-in-law, Shirley Levine, always reminded us: "You already know everything there is to know about you. When you speak with someone, why not learn something about them?"

Reconnecting with friends, families and colleagues and making new acquaintances are the perfect moments to lead with genuine interest in conversation. You already know about your life experience during this trying past 16 months. Make your first encounters count this summer by asking about — and then listening to — what life was like for them throughout the pandemic.

Try asking questions such as:

  • "What are you enjoying most now compared to last summer?"
  • "Are there things you are looking at differently?"
  • "Would you say the past year and a half changed you? If so, how?"
  • "Have your priorities shifted at all?"

Bottom line: When you ask questions out of sincerity, the prospect, client or team member will likely perceive you as a wonderful listener and someone who truly cares about them.