what a third grade holiday celebration can teach us about connecting with clients

The other day, I attended my son’s holiday celebration in his third-grade classroom. To capture the true spirit and meaning of the season, the kids took turns standing up in pairs and reading narratives about one another.

These weren’t fill-in-the-blank recitations. They were insightful and moving reflections. With their teacher’s guidance, the kids had taken the time to see and chronicle the world through their classmates’ eyes. This, of course, left nary a dry eye among us parents.

In my last post, I suggested that lawyers can benefit from seeing matters through our clients’ eyes. This requires us to set our own preconceptions aside. As John Baldoni notes in his recent post at (the just-revamped) Harvard Business Review, it also requires us to keep our egos in check.

Adding to the conversation, Seth Godin comments that gaining and keeping this other-focus can be tough when we’re so used to trying to get people to see things our way. (Lawyers are, after all, in the persuasion business.)

But, it can be done.

Pamela Slim offers us some pointers in a recent post on creating a client-centered, natural business model. Like Kathie Conway of Brains on Fire, you might also find that sharing personal stories is a direct route to learning about the people we work with and want to work with.

On the flip side, some suggest that you can’t really know others if you don’t have a strong sense of who you are. Those in need of some guided self-reflection can start with Seth Godin’s engaging 8 questions and a why.

2 Responses to “what a third grade holiday celebration can teach us about connecting with clients”
  1. Adrian Miller says:

    I love this idea and am thinking about how it can be used in a networking context. In so many groups, members hardly listen as their co-members go around the table and introduce themselves. Often and even after years of being in the group together, members can’t truly explain some of the businesses that are represented in the group.
    Perhaps your son’s 3rd grade teacher would like to make a visit to one of these groups. Better yet, I think that I am going to try this as an “assignment”. Thanks for sharing the story.

  2. Jeff Donner says:

    Yesterday I spoke at “Career Day” to a group of 1st and 2nd graders. This was the best thing I’ve done with my law degree since I graduated in 1999.

    -Jeff Donner

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