When I started out in law practice, I kind of thought that my services would just be wanted and needed and that I’d eventually get paid for my expertise.
Getting clients would be easy, right? Almost automatic, since I had the qualifications and skills they needed. Then, as I learned the art of working with clients…
I was shocked to find out that how I behaved and “felt” in a meeting was the most critical factor of my success.
What I’ve discovered is that my expertise is a very small part of the reason why people choose to work with me or not. Certainly as I’ve gotten more and more experienced in the area I’ve chosen, my confidence has risen which gives my advice more “umph.” However, the reality, and something they don’t and can’t teach in law school, is that…
Your “presence” is far more important in your success than your experience or your expertise.
What I’m talking about is energetic “entrainment,” the magical, mystical effect humans have on each other when we’re together.
Have you ever been in a room with someone who’s angry and found yourself either wanting to run away or feeling angst yourself? Or been in the presence of someone completely calm and realized your breathing has become deeper and more steady? That’s our bodies’ natural desire to pattern and harmonize with one another. It’s what makes family, community, and society possible.
When you meet with a client, you are beginning a process of entrainment to one another’s energy patterns. The person you’re looking at is looking for clues as to how to act, feel, behave, and react to the subject matter you’re talking about. Clients often have feelings and fears that even they do not quite understand—and are confused about how to tackle the big muddled ball of thoughts, feelings, ideas, preconceptions, and opinions rolling around in their heads.
Your first order of business is to anchor them—old school style, to “build rapport,” which is a phrase that doesn’t do this process justice. It really is about finding trust and confidence in one another. Your client needs to be heard, needs to be seen, wants to be entertained and wants to be released of the fears they’re carrying around. Your sole goal in the first part of your meeting is to help them settle in so they can start doing that.
Here are some questions to reflect on before you go into a meeting in to see how you might be showing up and what you can adjust in your own energy to give your clients the experience they want:
1. How are you feeling right now? What emotions are in your body, both positive and negative? Are you nervous, scared, excited, shut down, frenetic, needy, upset? Or are you peaceful, confident, calm, joyful, grateful?
2. What is the temperature of your body’s energy? Are you more cool or warm? If you had to pick which color, would you appear more blue or more red? Don’t try to shift or change it, just notice. You will naturally have a more cool or warm energy pattern. Neither is good or bad, it just is.
3. What thoughts are going on in your mind? Are you working on your to-do list just before you go into a client meeting? Are you thinking about how much you need this client in order to make your bills this month? If so, pause and breath. Let these thoughts glide away from you for now. You can get back to them later. Or not.
4. What music have you been listening to? Books you’ve been reading? Television or movies you’ve been watching? I have been surprised at how affected by my consumption of media I am. You, like me, may be porous this way—where the energy of the music, book, TV show is showing up in your body and mind. If that’s the case, make a point to take greater care of what goes in so that you can better manage what comes out.
5. What are the worries you’re carrying right now? Write them down somewhere so you can put them down and focus only on what and who is in front of you.
6. What is your intention for this meeting? If your intention is to make money, your potential client will sense it and put up barriers to you. Set an intention that is client-focused, not you-focused. What issue are they bringing you that you can help them understand and possibly solve? It sounds elementary, I know, but you’d be surprised at how often lawyers don’t put their client’s needs and wants ahead of their own energetically.