We get to work with really smart and insightful attorneys, and while we are often hired to help teach them new skills and client insights, the reality is we learn a lot from them. I walk away with different perspectives and ideas from each interaction. One of my favorite attorneys is really trying to retool his approach to his work, client service, business development, work habits and time management. He’s dedicated, open to new ideas, funny and really quite inspiring.
The last time we spoke, he said, “In our culture today, it’s hip to be Eeyore.” By putting himself in his clients’ and colleagues’ shoes, he’s recognized that is really not the case. It’s not “hip” to be Eeyore, and yet Eeyore attitudes run rampant in law firms and beyond. On social media, in the news and in our offices, people are ranting and raving about problems. The blaming, shaming and whining is unbearable.
Clients rely on the attorneys who are positive and find creative workarounds in the face of challenges to help clients advance the goals of the business.
For those of you who haven’t read any Winnie the Pooh books or watched the cartoons in a while, Eeyore tends to be rather pessimistic and gloomy, and he has a poor opinion of the other animals in the forest, describing them as having “no brain at all, some of them.”
In client interviews, we often ask what frustrates clients most about working with outside counsel. Typical responses include arrogance, condescending attitudes, being defensive and quickly pointing out all the potential problems without also offering solutions or alternatives. One client even said, “No one wants to do business with an Eeyore. People want to do business with people they like.”
On the flip side, when we ask what makes a law firm a “favorite,” clients praise attorneys who are proactive, solutions oriented, constructive, collaborative, inclusive, empathetic, good listeners, kind, respectful and optimistic. Clients rely on the attorneys who are positive and find creative workarounds and alternatives in the face of challenges to help clients advance the goals of the business.
As you wrap up 2019, ask your clients about their top priorities and goals in 2020 and how you can best support their successes.