When I was a young lawyer, I didn’t have the confidence to say “thank you”. Don’t get me wrong. I said it to my juries, both in my openings and in my closings. I thanked them for their time and their attention. But I didn’t say thank you to my clients, the doctors I advocated for in front of those juries. It made me feel awkward and insecure. I was afraid if I thanked my clients they’d think they were doing me a favor, that I was too young and inexperienced to represent them, and that they were doing me a favor by allowing me to be their attorney. But now I know that the best way to get more clients or customers is to thank the ones you already have.
My clients deserve my thanks. They are trusting me to advocate for them, and I am grateful. They’re giving me their time and their knowledge, and I appreciate that. These doctors are putting the fate of their case in my hands. If that doesn’t deserve thanks, I don’t know what does. So now, at the first meeting with my client, I say thank you. When the closings are done, I say it and after the jury comes back and the verdict is celebrated or mourned, I say it again. Gratitude no longer feels awkward. It feels authentic.
I’ve talked about gratitude in life outside of work in this space before. But I think it’s time for us all to focus more on gratitude at work. Studies show gratitude increases performance, job satisfaction and is overall good for business. But these studies tend to focus on saying thank you to employees. They don’t focus enough on saying thank you to clients. This may be because we think it will be awkward to thank clients for their work. We’d be wrong.
A recent study showed that, when giving thanks, we overestimate how awkward the recipients of our thanks will feel, and we underestimate how positive they’ll feel. My clients don’t want to sued, and they don’t want to be in a situation where they need my services. (Some of my clients call me the “Angel of Death” because they hate to see me coming). If saying thank you and expressing the gratitude I honestly feel makes anything about the process more positive for both of us, I’m doing it.
January 11th is International Thank You Day. By all means, thank your family, your friends, and the person who serves your lunch. But also thank the people who have hired your to provide them with a good or a service. Your clients have put their faith, hope and trust in you. There’s nothing more precious.
What about you? Have you ever been afraid to thank your clients? Let us know in the comments below!