Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

Getting to Yes! Step by Step

"Yes" in different languagesFor such a simple little word, “Yes” can be awfully elusive.

And yet that is the phrase that falls sweetest upon our ears, the one we most want to hear from clients, judges, opposing counsel and Dancing With the Stars voters.

Too often, though, we get just the opposite. No, or even NO! Or else we get wishy-washy responses – maybe, I’m not sure, I’ll think about it – that are almost as bad.

One solution is to do what thousands of lawyers have done since 1981 and read the bestseller “Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In.”

The book’s website promises to show you how to:

  • Separate the people from the problem
  • Focus on interests, not positions
  • Work together to create opinions that will satisfy both parties
  • Negotiate successfully with people who are more powerful, refuse to play by the rules, or resort to dirty tricks

Yes! As a Process

If your summer reading list is already too long, you can read “Getting to Yes! Engaging More Clients in Your Law Practice” on the Law Business Mentors blog.

According to author Martha Hartney, Step One of Getting to Yes! (with an enthusiastic, full-throated exclamation point) is letting go of your need to get there. She says Yes! cannot be demanded but must asked for. Politely.

Step Two is recognizing that Getting Clients to Say Yes! is not an act or a decision. It is a process. It starts with a tiny yes – perhaps by requesting an initial appointment – and then builds from there.

“It grows with open-hearted connection, education, feedback, and repetition,” Hartney writes. “It doesn’t happen on the first contact with you or your firm. It may not happen for the first ten contacts with your firm. But with each time you ‘connect’ with your prospect, their continued connection with you indicates a level of willingness, which is all you need to nurture that relationship.”

First impressions are key, says Hartney. Prospective clients may say yes to your website photo or bio. Or they might be attracted by your LinkedIn profile or a Youtube clip.

From there, the progression of yeses might go something like this:

  • Yes, I think I’ll call.
  • Yes, I called and now I want to know more.
  • Yes, this lawyer is qualified to tell me what I needed to know.
  • Yes, I’m willing to let this person into my personal life.
  • Yes, I’m willing to take some responsibility for my desires.
  • Yes, I’m willing to share more of my financial information with this person.
  • Yes, this person gets me and knows what I want and will tell me what I need.
  • Yes, I am willing to commit to the course of action we discussed.
  • Yes, I am willing to pay this person to fill my wants and needs.

This last yes should flow organically from the preceding affirmations. For your part, your activities and energy should be aimed at making a Yes offer that no client could refuse.

Once that offer has been accepted by one client, others will surely follow.

Before long, your practice will be one hearty Yes!

 Jay Reeves a/k/a The Risk Man is an attorney licensed in North Carolina and South Carolina. Formerly he was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He has never appeared in Legal Profession Blog. Contact jay.reeves@ymail.com, phone 919-619-2441.

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About the Author

Jay Reeves

jay.reeves@ymail.com | 919-619-2441

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. Over the course of his 35-year career he was a solo practitioner, corporate lawyer, legal editor, Legal Aid staff attorney and insurance risk manager. Today he helps lawyers and firms put more mojo in their practice through marketing, work-life balance and reclaiming passion for what they do. He is available for consultations, retreats and presentations.

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