Who was the first to say:

All other things being equal people want to do business with people (lawyers) they know, like and trust.

In his book “The Likeability Factor,” Tim Sanders includes a chapter on “The Four Elements of Likeability.” Those elements are:

    • • Friendliness
    • • Relevance
    • • Empathy
    • • Realness (authenticity)

They say our country wants to elect a President the majority knows, likes and trusts. The 2016 election may have changed that. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton had unfavorabilty ratings over 50%.

I learned a great deal from President Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, President Reagan and President Clinton. Each of those Presidents connected with their audience. In varying degrees they each demonstrated friendliness, relevance, empathy and realness.

Many young lawyers I coached believed they were at a competitive disadvantage because of their age and experience. I said that was the wrong way to think. I told young lawyers to focus on what they were, not on what they weren’t

When I coached young lawyers I shared with them that about 10% of legal work is “bet the company.” Clients will hire the best-known senior “go to” lawyer to handle that work.

At the other end, about 20% to 30% of legal work is commodity work. Clients will hire whoever is willing to do that work for the lowest price. Lawyers in a firm of any size, are not able to compete on price and would not want to compete on price.

Finally, at least 60% of legal work is neither bet the company or commodity work. Clients will hire lawyers they like and trust and with whom they feel some connection.

How can you position yourself to have the best opportunity to be hired by clients for that work? First, you have to be a capable lawyer. But, that will not be enough. You need to also be likeable with the elements Tim Sanders describes. You need to be friendly. Tim Sanders uses a quote from Bert Drecker, a communication expert:

“If you want to get your message across . . .., You must first persuade the listeners first brain that you represent warmth, comfort and safety.”

Next, you must be relevant. As a lawyer that means understanding your client’s industry and company and understanding your client contact’s needs.

Next, you need to be empathetic. You must be able to see things from your client’s point of view. To do that you need to ask relevant questions and then listen, listen, listen.

Finally, you need to be real. Have you ever said about a person:

What you see is what you get.

If you have, then you know what being real means.

For many years I have said lawyers focus too much on what they do and not nearly enough on what their clients need. How can you learn what your clients need? Put simply, if you do some research and listen intently, they will tell you.

In law school, you  were taught to

think like a lawyer.

Imagine if you had also been taught to

think like a client.

You would be in a far better position to help your clients. To “think like a client” you must work on being empathetic and walking in your clients’ shoes and you must build trust and rapport with them.

According to Wikipedia, empathy is defined as

one’s ability to recognize, perceive and feel directly the emotion of another.

For you, it is the ability to look at things from your client’s perspective. It is very important for you to understand how your client or client representative views the matter you are handling and what is important to them. Keep in mind that for a business client, your legal work is in the context of their business and for an individual client, your legal work is in the context of their life.

Habit Five, in “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” by Stephen Covey, is:

Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood..

That is a great habit for lawyers to follow. Covey points out that only a small percentage of people engage in empathetic listening. Most of us are figuring out what we will say instead of listening intently to what our clients are telling us.

Covey also urges readers to diagnose before prescribing. Far too many lawyers want to demonstrate their brilliance before the client has finished describing the situation.

How do you diagnose? We need to ask questions and listen intently. Here are some questions or statements you can use:

  • Tell me about…
  • What is it like…
  • Tell me more…
  • Help me understand…
  • Can you give me an example of…
  • How did you…
  • Bring me up to date on…

Sometimes your clients will tell you one thing, while their body language is telling us something different.

In his book “The Likeability Factor,” Tim Sanders points out that the first step to understanding how others feel is to recognize their emotions which, with practice, can be read on their faces long before they tell us how they feel. Sanders references the work of Dr. Paul Ekman and includes a quote:

Facial expressions, even quickly passing, signal emotional expression. The face is the mind’s involuntary messenger.

How can you build your empathy skill set?

There is plenty of information on the internet. I recently found a blog that included: 15 Questions to become more empathetic. 

You have heard the expression:

All other things being equal, people (clients) want to do business with people (lawyers), they know, like and trust.

Likeability: What is it? What are the elements?

In his book “The Likeability Factor,” Tim Sanders includes a chapter on “The Four Elements of Likeability.” Those elements are:

• Friendliness
• Relevance
• Empathy
• Realness (authenticity)

When I coach young lawyers I share with them that I believe that about 10% of legal work is “bet the company.” Clients will hire the best-known senior “go to” lawyer to handle that work.

At the other end, I believe that about 20% to 30% of legal work is commodity work. Clients will hire whoever is willing to do that work for the lowest price. If you are in a firm of any size, you will not be able to compete on price and frankly you would not want to compete on price.

Finally, I believe that at least 60% of legal work is neither bet the company or commodity work. Clients will hire lawyers they like and trust and with whom they feel some connection.

Business man woman SS 9316663

How can you position yourself to have the best opportunity to be hired by clients for that work? First, you have to be a capable lawyer. But, that will not be enough.

You need to also be likeable with the elements Tim Sanders describes. You need to be friendly. Tim Sanders uses a quote from Bert Drecker, a communication expert:

If you want to get your message across . . .., You must first persuade the listeners… that you represent warmth, comfort and safety.

Next, you must be relevant. As a lawyer that means understanding your client’s industry and company and understanding your client contact’s needs.

Next, you need to be empathetic. You must be able to see things from your client’s point of view. To do that you need to be able to ask relevant questions and then listen, listen, listen.

Finally, you need to be real and authentic.

If you don’t have time to read the entire book, I think you will find this summary helpful.

What does it take to get hired by a business client? First, it depends on the type of work. For most work, it will depend on whether your potential client knows, likes and trusts you.

In group coaching sessions on getting hired, I share with the lawyers that I believe about 10% of legal work is “bet the company.” Clients will hire the best-known “go to” lawyer to handle that work. At the other end, I believe about 30% of legal work is commodity work. Clients will hire the lawyer who is willing to do that work for the lowest price.Finally, I believe at least 60% of legal work is neither bet the company or commodity work. Clients will hire lawyers they like and trust and with whom they feel some connection.

 

 

How can you position yourself to have the best opportunity to be hired by clients for that work? First, you have to be a capable lawyer. But, that will not be enough. You need to also be likable. As you may know, Tim Sanders wrote a book: The Likeability Factor. I read it more than once when it was first published. Tim Sanders Identifies four things you can work on to increase your “L” factor:

  • Friendliness
  • Relevance
  • Empathy
  • Realness (Authenticity)

I invite you to read the book to get a more detailed description of each idea. Then decide:

  1. What can you do to be more friendly in the eyes of your clients and referral sources? Here is one clue from the book: 55% of the like/dislike cues people give are visual, mostly facial, 38% are tone of voice.
  2. What can you do to be more relevant? Here is my clue: Understand your client’s industry and business so your legal work is done in the context of your client’s business objectives.
  3. How can you become more empathetic? This one takes some real work. You have to pay attention to more than what is being said.
  4. What does it mean to be real? It begins with knowing who you really are and what you really value.

If you are interested, share with me your ideas on becoming more likable.

I don’t know about you, but I hate watching Presidential Debates.  Yet, if you learn nothing else, the candidates who do well in the debates convey they can be trusted to handle the problems the country is facing, they are the most likeable and they are empathetic.

First, let me share what I don’t like about the debates:

  • There are too many.
  • They are not debates at all, but rather staged events where each candidate waits for the opportunity to get into his answer the sound bite his handlers have told him will sway the voters.
  • Debaters don’t even answer the questions they have been asked.
  • One minute answers with 30 second responses is not enough time to address a question

In spite of all these shortcomings, you can learn a lot about attracting clients by watching these debates. In his book, The Likeability Factor, Tim Sanders writes:

You’ve Got to Be Believed, author Bert Decker points out that George Gallup has conducted a personality factor poll prior to every presidential election since 1960. Only one of three factors—issues, party affiliation, and likeability—has been a consistent prognosticator of the final election result: likeability.

If you have watched any of the debates, leave aside your political bias for a moment and answer these questions:

  • Which candidate is coming across in the debates as most likeable?
  • Which candidate is coming across in the debates as most competent?
  • Which candidate is coming across in the debates as most empathetic?

A self labelled progressive professor suggests that President Obama comes across as both likeable and empathetic. In, The Likeability And Empathy Factor In Presidential Politics, he states:

The average voter wants to LIKE a candidate on a personal level, and feel that the candidate cares about his or her life, shows empathy toward the circumstances of one’s life.

I found it interesting that the professor left out competence as a factor. Maybe it is because it is the least important. So called experts say: “Obama Plan: Destroy Romney.” Does he run the risk of being less likeable? Will that matter?

In 2007, Hillary Clinton was perceived as more competant than Barrack Obama, but according to surveys Obama was 35% more likeable than Hillary Clinton. Now surveys show that Hillary Clinton is the most popular politician. I bet she would easily win in 2012 and I wonder what has made her so popular now.

So, what can learn from the presidential debates? Like voters, clients want to do business with lawyers they know like and trust and who empathetically understand their problems. Like voters, clients will be comparing you to others. One final thing: I don’t believe clients will want to hire you if you “bad mouth” other lawyers. So a strategy based on “destroying” your competitor will not likely succeed.