WHOSE SHOES ARE YOU WEARING?
Originally posted on July 2010
Abraham Lincoln commented that “the best trial lawyers spend 20% of their time preparing their case and 80% of their time preparing the case of their opponents.” In other words, they put themselves in the other lawyer’s shoes to see what direction the arguments would take. You can also apply this to your clients.
Put on Your Clients Shoes
When you’re consistently dealing with the same issue or scenario with your clients, it is important to look at it from their perspective. Over the years I have had many clients who have made excuses for not being able to pay an invoice. In these instances, I always put myself in their shoes and try to analyze the situation. Below is a mental checklist I usually process when I come across this or any other situation with a client:
- Are they telling the truth
- Are they in financial trouble
- Do they have a valid reason or reasons
- Was there mis-communication
- What solution will give me the best possible outcome
Even when you are trying to generate business or secure a client, you should put on their shoes and truly understand what they need. In one of my previous blog posts (Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind) I talked about listening to your client and offer them the best solution. This was a great example of how I put myself in the clients shoes and benefited.
This also happens in life almost every day. When was the last time you came across someone with road-rage, a person who cuts you off, a cashier who was unpleasant or a rude waiter? In my experience the best outcome to these instances is to realize it may be the person’s way of escaping a stressful day or they may have a serious personal issue. If you always give the other person the benefit of the doubt, you will create a less stressful situation which ultimately will give a better outcome.
The Bottle Thrown at My Dad
I remember a specific instance as a kid when we were driving to an electronic store when my dad saw these 2 kids in the back of a pickup truck. As we exited off the highway onto the off ramp, my dad noticed one of the kids (probably 10 year old’s) sticking his thumb in his mouth. My dad decided to take it upon himself to gesture to the kid to take his thumb out of his mouth. Apparently my dad wanted to make the decision for the parents on how their kid should act. The kid did not like this and I believe he stuck his tongue out at us and then gave us a nice gesture with his finger. I noticed his dad look over and see this, then the light turned green. As we passed the pickup truck I noticed a highly upset father yelling at my dad and after we passed him he threw a glass bottle at our car. I was pretty scared, since I know my dad is not a fighter. We ended up driving off, but I was upset at my dad for deciding how the kid should act. I told him that he didn’t know the kids situation, and should not have assumed this was something bad just because he felt it was. This could have been an ugly situation, but luckily he only had a bottle and not a gun.
Give your clients and the people you interact with, the benefit of the doubt and truly understand their perspective and you will almost always achieve the best possible outcome.