On Having Essential Conversations

Susan Bradley, CFP®, CeFT™, Founder of the Sudden Money® Institute
July 8, 2015

When any kind of Sudden Money® enters someone's life--regardless of the origin of the money--things begin to shift within that person as well as with their relationships. Recipients of lottery windfalls and inheritances, as well as divorcees and widows, quickly develop desires and expectations for their money. They also form (or already had) expectations about how other people will view them and relate to them and their financial situation. In short, life transitions of all kinds create the need for what I call Essential Conversations.

Essential Conversations are the elephants in every room. They are the topics that can cause misunderstandings, aggravate stress, and even destroy relationships if they aren't handled properly. The good news is that there's a process for identifying and having Essential Conversations that is reliable and can be used with financial advisors and other professionals, family members, friends, co-workers, and anyone else facing a challenging or sensitive situation. The outcomes can be transformative for those who practice Essential Conversations because the structure of the conversations promotes mindfulness across all kinds of communication. Relationships are transformed, work with professionals becomes more clear and effective, decision-making improves, and confidence and comfort with action steps and plans increases.

The structure we teach for Essential Conversations is: Purpose, Method, Outcome.

  • Purpose: identifying precisely what needs to be discussed, of course, but the focus is on the difference it will make if the discussion goes well (or if it doesn't) and if concerns/fears are resolved (or not). In other words, why does the topic needs to be addressed?
  • Method: A map for how the conversation will be led (not to be confused with how it will actually play out, as we can only control ourselves). What resources will be used, who will be involved, and will the conversation involve any kind of formal agreements?
  • Outcome: The results you hope to achieve, including action steps and a larger plan.

For financial advisors, Essential Conversations are an efficient and effective way to move clients from uncertainty or even stress, to clarity and comfort. Just as important, they strengthen the emotional connection between advisors and clients because they demonstrate that the advisor's priority is to hear and address the client's deepest concerns.


For more information about Essential Conversations and other tools and processes of

Financial Transitions Planning, visit us at: https://www.suddenmoney.com/

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