Monday, July 23, 2012

Word matters

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit in on interviews at law firms around the Southeast with lateral partners and provide feedback.  I also had follow ups with the firms and measured who they extended offers to and compared them with my notes.  The biggest indicator that I discovered was not the way that they dressed.  All had figured that out years ago.  Wasn’t experience.  By the interview they had been vetted by experience.  Wasn’t the client base (although how they articulated how that client base could be leveraged into that firm was important)  It was the words that they used.

After one such interview session, I treated myself to a spicy chicken sandwich at Chik-fil-A and have discovered what I now coin the “No problem” versus “My pleasure” speaker.  

Client calls and say that they have an emergency, you handle that emergency.  They say “thank you”.  You say ”no problem”  Well it was certainly a problem for them, and if it wasn’t for you then why are you billing them for it..

Go into any Chik-fil-A, order something and say “thank you”.  They say “my pleasure”.  It is part of their brand, and how words are delivered are part of each attorneys brand that I sat with. 
If I had a dollar for every “probably”, “maybe”, “kind of”, “sort of”,“possibly” that I heard I could retire.  When I work with attorneys before an interview I use the example of “I think” vs. “I believe”.  What is stronger?

The weak words had a direct correlation to the interviewers notes of not being prepared, not articulate, not a good listener, untrustworthy.  Does that represent a brand that you believe any firm would want to put forth?

The tragedy is that that does not at all represent how good of an attorney that person is.  If they eliminated those words would it change anything that they were trying to convey? Most of the time, the words are just fillers.

Your words are your brand.  Your assistants words are your brand.  The receptionist that hands a client coffee and welcomes them to your office is your brand.  The words on your website is your brand.  It is either weak or strong. When clients are evaluating options, who do you believe that they want?

Some fun from My Fair Lady:

Have a little fun with the folks at the office and think of the most popular weak words that you know.  When someone says them they owe a dollar for each offense. To be kept hermetically sealed in a mayonnaise jar until the end of the week. Then cater a lunch from Chik-Fil-A with the money raised. It will be their pleasure…

Please contact me about how you would like to further develop your client base at: 850-893-8984,