A few thoughts on clients.
Years ago as I was traveling the country talking to patients and parents about their sick loved ones, someone shared this quote with me:
"You don't care how much someone knows, until you know how much someone cares."
In those days, I also heard:
"It's a long day in the hospital when no one is caring for you."
They've stayed with me for years like a rudder to my life's boat.
I've built my life around learning about, reflecting on, thinking of and caring for people -- their motivations, best interests, livelihoods, lives. I've lived different chapters of this; and I do believe the way I care and how I care has changed across the years.
I do think Danny Myer has a good point when he talks about the "service gene," something we are born with. His book, Setting the Table has some great tips on how to care for someone in a restaurant, in life and beyond.
I've learned that caring and client management are about the little things -- about paying attention. And of course, the little things really are the big things.
A few tips that come to mind that have helped me across the years are listed a touch later.
The most important thing I have found is to care and to reflect, to act and to ask. I trust my gut on timing.
We have a client list we keep and review often. We also have a no call list: people we've decided need breathing room and not to hear from us (even though we think we could be perfect for them and help them a ton!).
We also discuss best next indicated steps often -- and change gears daily. We do things depending on the day of the week, the weather, the season. How we are led, how we feel, what calls us -- all matter. We get quiet and listen to our inner knowing, quiet whispers. We honor that.
We do our best to approach our clients from a framework of joy and ease, kindness and grace with a deep rushing current of steady, strong focused impact.
Sometimes we present as quiet anchors. Sometimes we are lions.
If we aren't truly focused and centered on our clients' best interest and best shot at exceptional, we need to get there before we call, reach out, act.
We believe we attract what we put out into the world. So our best attitude will help our clients with their best attitude.
We focus on the positive and appreciation. We focus on gratitude and service. We focus on people who change the world and positively influence the worlds in which they live.
We enjoy them.
A few tips:
- Finding the love you have in your heart for the person, the program, the principles of your shared work and connection.
- Investing before you withdraw. Saying thank you before you say please.
- Meeting them where they are. Learning who they are, what they want and their deeper motivations. Attending to our clients before our song may become too loud.
- Creating opportunities for joy.
- Minimizing opportunities for pain. Glancing back, but not staring. Excavating before repaving. Meditating before medicating.
- Creating a cadence for the relationship that sings. Trusting our co-created rhythm.
- Learning that the first phase of trust building is usually the most critical.
- Remembering that the second or third phase of elevating the relationship, adding some zest, staying committed authentic, close and real is also just as critical and meaningful.
- Putting your mind and heart into all of it.
- Leading with gratitude and appreciation.
- Always remaining genuine.
- Listening to what they are and are not saying.
- Taking time to know and trust your gut on where the relationship, work and results truly are -- and living from that spot.
- Asking the client what she wants. Responding accordingly. Listen. Listen. Listen some more. Hear. Here.
- Framing the relationship and the expectations up front. Being willing to be honest and forthright, gentle and kind, brave and bold, present and personal. Taking risks that can blow the roof off of something.
- Owning your part in the relationship, not theirs. "Let there be spaces in your togetherness." Kahlil Gibran
- Communicating with humility, humor and compassion.
- Being able to say no in a way that feels like sincere kindness, by focusing on common ground and what is in the best interest of all involved.
- Learning more about what the client is and is not saying.
- Enjoying it all and always remembering courtesy.
- Going beyond the daily or regular connections by sending a hand written thank you note that is genuine and true, if it fits and feels right (making cookies, giving a call, etc.).
- If a client is waiting or if there is a disappointment, let them know you are on it and apologize in instances that make sense. Careful not to over-apologize, but to live the amend. Amend is a change, not an apology. Living the changed behavior, I find, is often more difficult than throwing out an apology, but so worth it. Words and actions need to align for best benefit to all, I've found. Trumpeting "I'm sorry" never seems to work well for me. Changing my behavior for the clients' best outcome, I have found, is essential.
- Sometimes it is just important to be quiet and wait. Not always, but sometimes.
- Cherishing clients is different than focusing on fixing a problem, creating a plan or attending to a task. For us it often involves a saunter. It usually involves marveling and earnest, heartfelt care.
- Be a client. Notice what you love, what you don't. Do they put lemon on a plate or on a napkin? What's your preference? Do they face the disappointments head on or hide from them? Do they walk with you shoulder to shoulder for your best interests? Notice. Ask. Live it. Learn.
Just a few thoughts to inspire and transform the possibilities of deeper, more meaningful connections with clients.
Please take what you like and leave the rest. Life is in session. Enjoy your days loving your family, friends, clients, yourself and your life.