Perspective. It seems to be something we all forget, lose sight of and that changes not only from year to year, but often from moment to moment. Very much like opinions, we all have one and they are all often very different. Two years ago, I was given the gift of time to travel to Nicaragua on a mission trip where I along with 22 other people from various backgrounds spent a week in Granada, building kitchens at 3 different schools. These kitchens would allow the children to have at least one hot meal per day, as the government had agreed to supply the food supplies and the parent volunteers would prepare it, but prior to the kitchen facilities they were forced to cook over open flame and often experienced severe smoke inhalation or burn injuries. I went with the perspective that I the American with all that I had, was going to give to them. Instead, I realized that often what a true mission trip is about, is allowing yourself to open your heart and mind to be ready to receive the gifts of those you are there to help. They want to give to you. The same goes for your clients and those you encounter every day.
We are given the gift of perspective. We are allowed to see the world from so many different ways and through many different “eyes”, yet often we sit with our eyes closed. The greatest gift I brought back from my trip is the ability to see the world and those that I experience from different perspectives. Do you see your clients only from your perspective or do you truly try to experience them from their shoes? Do you “share” their concerns and their fears? Is your office and your practice so client centric that they feel like “you’ve got it” when they share their struggles and their worries? Do they feel like they are truly being taken care of or do they feel like they are just another number? Are you listening to what your clients are really telling you or are you only hearing what you think they’re saying, because of course, you know best?
Perspective has several meanings. The two that seem to apply most here are the following: “true understanding of the relative importance of things and a sense of proportion and a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view”. It is your job, your role with your clients to have a perspective in their case and in their lives which allows you to take into account the things that are most important to their situation. It is this perspective that will allow you to help them the most. It is this perspective that allows you to hear them and help them at the same time. Yet you must also have the human perspective. The perspective where you share a common thread about what is most important to them and not just what is factually most important to their case.
So, the key to the client experience you and your firm offer is that you listen so that you have a clear perspective to what they are saying as well as to their needs. Your perspective should also allow you to see what is vital to their case and what will allow you to get them the best outcome to meet their needs. But most importantly, you should take time to stop, look and listen so that you have the opportunity to gain a perspective. Don’t overlook these opportunities, they are gifts and they do happen every day. We just have to recognize them. They will make us better people and better lawyers.