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By David RichmanNational Director, Eaton Vance Advisor Institute

Perhaps you are familiar with the symbolic significance of the lotus flower — it grows deep in the mud and when it reaches the sunlight, it turns into a beautiful flower. Metaphorically, let's consider the current environment (the mud) and the possibilities of your conversations with prospective and existing clients (the lotus flower).

It was gratifying to read Anna Sale's guest essay in The New York Times, "How to Make Your Small Talk Big," as we are aligned on the pandemic's impact and the propitious moment we have to go deeper in conversation:

"Each of us has lost something in this last year, some much more than others, and we are adjusting and grieving in different ways."

Even when you are speaking with those fortunate enough to have avoided the direct impact of COVID-19, it is likely they have experienced loss — lost life moments, lost connective tissue to those they cherish and perhaps lost confidence about the predictability of their futures.

As we emerge from the muddy waters of the pandemic, you can serve as the sunlight to allow your clients the opportunity to bloom. Consider Ms. Sale's advice coupled with my repeated suggestion — "small talk is small."

Bottom line: This is no time for superficial conversation. Embrace bringing dialogue to a deeper level by resisting the ritual of small talk.