Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

It's Never Too Early to Start Giving Thanks

Two little words – Thank You – can make a big difference in your law practice.

Just ask Vinny Gambini. In the cinematic classic “My Cousin Vinny,” the defense lawyer played by Joe Pesci gave a rambling, ludicrous and incoherent opening statement. The judge ordered the entire statement struck from the record, with the exception of two words.

Thank you.

Now comes scientific research that shows saying “thank you” not only makes people feel good – it can get them to act the way we want them to.

According to the Harvard Gazette“Receiving expressions of gratitude makes us feel a heightened sense of self-worth, and that in turn triggers other helpful behaviors toward both the person we are helping and other people, too.”

Solo Practice University Thanks You

Susan Cartier Liebel, the founder of Solo Practice University, began a blogpost this way:

“Thank you for reading this post. Thank you for reading this blog on a regular basis. Your continued readership is highly valued. Thank you for taking the time to share your terrific thoughts and experiences in the comments and thank you for sharing this post and blog with others if you feel it provides benefit.”

She had me at Thank you.

“Getting an unexpected sincere ‘thank you’ is like a B-12 shot in the arm,” she goes on to say. “The adrenalin starts pumping. The smile begins. It makes your day. You find you want to pay it forward. Thank you is powerful. It’s free. The benefits are priceless.”

Gratitude in the Law Office

When it comes to client relations, we often expect to receive what we do not freely give.

We want our clients to be thankful. We want them to be overflowing with gratitude for our awesome efforts. We want them to say thank you for getting me out of jail or freeing me from a miserable marriage or winning me lots of money.

But have we set a good precedent?

Did we tell our client on day one that we were happy to see them? Did we express our appreciation for the chance to be of service? Did we tell them thanks for choosing us over the million other available attorneys?

And what about our employees? Do we regularly thank them for their hard work? Do we make sure they know they are valued members of the team?

Law firms that say thank you have higher retention rates and a happier workforce. They also make more money.

“[A]s a solo practitioner you may not have ‘employees’ in the traditional sense but that doesn’t mean there aren’t many people who have helped and continue to help you grow your practice,” according to Liebel. “It may be a former employer, a past/current mentor, a professor, your spouse, a parent, a client who gave you a referral. Or the satisfied client who has become your greatest evangelist.

“Most of you will send out holiday cards to keep your name in front of your clients.  But do you send a thank you card for being a client? Yes, you collect a fee and they receive services and there is that quid pro quo. But genuinely thanking clients for the privilege of serving them is a very human thing to do. You’re dealing with people. Do it from an honest place and you will potentially receive the added benefit of getting more business.”

Do you have trouble expressing gratitude?

Here’s a WikiHow web page that offers tips on how to do it effectively or you can use the tried-and-true method by saying two words.

Thank you.

About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

Read More by Jay >

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