Whose client am I?.jpeg

Last week's ResultsMailVT urged you to delete the word "client" from your vocabulary. This post stimulated a lot of discussion on the LinkedIn groups to which I published it.

One commenter requested clarification:

"In as much as I'm not allergic to change, this is beyond me. I need to know how you came about the suggestion that we should drop the very popular legal lexicon/parlance. I need to know your alternative, and why. It'll be great to learn something new. Do you mean to entirely jettison the lexicon, or just to be creative, innovative and fanciful in addressing those who do not belong to our profession, and have engaged our services?"

There's no fancy language suggested or needed.

Unconscious mental habits

I'm arguing that the word "client" triggers unconscious mental habits, such as proprietary ownership, which often extends to entitlement.

By contrast, the word "prospect," triggers mental habits such as demonstrating interest, earning progress, doing things to encourage the prospect to see you as committed to their success and happiness.

It's analogous to what's depicted in popular (US) culture about romance. While you're dating your "spouse prospect," you're attentive, considerate, creative, communicative, etc., all in service to encouraging him or her to conclude that you'd be a great mate.

After you've "landed" him or her, and you're married or otherwise committed, without intending to you can begin to take your mate for granted. Maybe you're not quite as attentive, considerate, creative, communicative, etc. Again, as depicted in US popular culture, "girlfriends" get treated better than "spouses."

In this analogy, "Client" = "spouse." "Prospect" = "girlfriend."

In the business development world, there are no long-term commitments, no marriages between clients and lawyers. The clients are always dating you, so you'd better keep courting and wooing them and not act like you're married and you don't have to any longer.

If you always consider those with whom you do business as prospects, you'll behave as if they were prospects. You'll investigate and explore a shared future.

Mike O'Horo

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