I love Maya Angelou. I know she has passed away, but the feeling doesn’t feel past tense to me. I love the sound of her voice, her ability to make the complex simple and her beautiful words. I often turn to her writing in times of stress, and a few days ago I listened to I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings on Audible for the fifth or sixth time. Her slow cadence and thoughtful observations calm me. Listening to her made me research some of her most famous quotes, and one really spoke to me. It feels very timely:
“I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
For most of us, we are two or three weeks into our new normal: daily discussions around COVID-19, working from home, balancing kids and school, helping aging parents and trying to find energy to face the day. Some of us are drinking from a firehose of work, decisions and stress, while others have far too much time and are riddled with fear of the unknown. It is an unsettling time for everyone. Yet there have been plenty of silver linings with connectivity, kindness, community, family and joy.
We have seen hundreds (if not thousands) of emails, CLEs, webinars and information from lawyers and law firms over the past few weeks. Many are timely and providing important information, but far too many are information overload or repeat, and your clients are feeling overwhelmed.
I hear some clients are using a phrase right now, “pens down,” as in stop all work. We hope there aren’t too many of those notices in your world today, but maybe utilize the advice differently.
Instead, how about: Pens down on the information overload, and “hands up” to take this time to reach out to your clients and let them know you are thinking about them personally and professionally.
Times of uncertainty and stress are the perfect occasion to make personal connections with your network. Be genuine and offer support and specific insights if you have them, but even if you don’t have specific suggestions, just reach out and tell them you are thinking of them. Do the right thing. Help them in a time of need whether it advances your billable hour or not. Ask how you can specifically be supportive to them. Solve a problem they are facing that has nothing to do with the law because you care and it is the right thing to do, not because you expect anything in return. People’s best and worst come out in times of stress. Make sure your clients, contacts and network remember you for how you made them feel during this time.