Friday, July 25, 2014

The Tortoise and The Hare

As you might recall, Daughter just graduated from college with her Bachelors of Science Degree in Exercise Science.  The first thing she learned is that without a fitness trainer's certificate, her degree would not get her a job.  To those of us here in the Trenches, who are unable to practice law despite having a law degree before passing the bar exam, Daughter's experience seems familiar.  This week, she took and passed her fitness trainer's exam and, most importantly, got a job.

Daughter was excited,.... and then called me in a panic.  Everyone was going to expect her to know what to do.  She worried that a client would come in and ask her to devise an exercise regimen for a specific purpose, and she wouldn't be able to do it on the spot.  What if a client came in and presented a need she'd never seen?  What if she really needed to think about it for a while before answering a client?  Would she get fired?  Would the clients think she's an idiot?  Her questions brought back memories of my first jobs after law school, and when I told them to Chrystal, brought back the trauma of her first days as a paralegal as well.  There is such a difference between going to school and actually applying what you've learned.  It doesn't matter if you went to a trade school or college.  School is school, and it's a controlled environment.  The working world is not.  So, what did I tell Daughter?   I told her that clients (at least the ones you want to keep) understand that even though you know your stuff, you may not have all the information at your fingertips at any given moment.  That's especially true when you're young and just starting out.  Clients appreciate that you don't just try to bluff them, that you don't stumble your way through a response that is only partially correct.  My stock response starting out was that I wanted to think about their question and research it thoroughly so I could be sure to address their concerns fully.  Clients got it; they appreciated it.  After all, who doesn't want to feel special enough to know you really want to answer their question.  Of course, I did do what I said I was going to do, and the clients were satisfied with the response.  Our lovely Chrystal had the same experience, and so I passed that advice on to Daughter.  She felt better knowing that she didn't have to decide and advise clients on the spot, but could think about her response before answering..

There is a lesson here for our clients here in the Trenches.  Simply because  someone wants an answer today doesn't mean you have to give it to them today.  The world understands, even if your spouse doesn't seem to, that a thoughtful response is better than a hasty one that is then changed, and changed, and changed again as you think on it more.  I'd rather wait a while for one answer than have a continuing barrage of new responses to the same question.   The  problem here in the Trenches is that  our clients are not faced with easy questions about minor things.  They are making decisions that  affect the rest of their lives.  On top of that, they are suffering the same anxiety of needing to respond faced by Daughter at a time in which  their higher level thinking is compromised.  For our clients, taking the time for a deep breath and detailed thought is imperative, yet they feel the emotional  pressure to get it done and over with.  Part of our job,is to help them take that deep breath, present them with all the facts for their options, and help them vet alternatives until they can find the right one for them.  That's not an immediate process.  They have to take the time to investigate the issue thoroughly.  Here in the Trenches.

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