All professional service providers are ultimately in the people business. Every day we deal with human lives in what we do, no matter to what extent our technical skills are needed, and should strive to communicate honestly and directly about what we do while maintaining respect for those with whom we deal. I believe it is this interaction with others that makes work worthwhile, and it is what I’m most grateful for in my own career.
As a coach with decades of experience counseling lawyers on ways to improve their practice and client service, I often find that the biggest barrier to a successful coaching process arises when this interaction is not present – when those with whom I work expect me to have all the answers. Such an expectation completely loses the value of back-and-forth collaboration. The best coaching experience is an active and interactive process – a dynamic partnership between coach and client where each learns from the other. In law, in medicine, in business, in technology … this kind of interaction achieves the most and is the most satisfying.
Interestingly, technology – which often is blamed for reducing personal interplay – really has facilitated its own type of interaction. The interactivity on the Internet is epitomized by the give and take between online users of blogs and social networking sites. It makes the Internet experience far more meaningful if the visitor to a site is an active, participatory user rather than a passive viewer (sometimes called “lurker”). I know this is true from my own experience with www.lawbizblog.com, even though it can sometimes be bruising when others disagree with my perspective and immediately express their feelings. On balance, the interactive communication facilitated by the Internet has made it more enriching, and personally valuable, as a tool in professional relationships.
The best business and personal relationships are those defined by collaborative interaction: working together to assess needs and develop solutions, making recommendations to each other about actions and decisions that are mutually beneficial. I love the phrase, “No man is an island unto himself.” And that is particularly true in the interactive process of delivering professional services to appreciative clients. Communicate regularly with your clients. Make them feel like part of the team. Seek out their opinions, ask them what they want to accomplish, explain the reasons behind your advice. Ask, “How am I doing? Should I be doing something different?” That’s what defines effective interaction. It is a process for which I am most grateful, because it has made my entire career rewarding and satisfying.
Ed Poll, J.D., M.B.A., CMC
ScanSnap Squad member