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Words have power. Groups of words bring even more power.

The words speak volumes about your actions, commitment, client service, and the relationship you want to have with your clients. Here are the 6 phrases ranking among the most impactful and powerful — and stand above anything else you have to say:

I think

Clients want to know what you’re thinking before you get started and after you start. What is your approach? How do you view the problem? It is bigger than a bread box? Clients want to understand what they are getting into and what you think they are getting into — and close any gaps.

They want your opinion — good, bad, or indifferent. Especially when the key facts remain unknown.

My recommendation is

Think unequivocal recommendation. Clients want you to draw on your experience and knowledge and stick your neck out. Your recommendation becomes a client’s baseline. They may or may not agree but as one top legal decision maker noted; “even when I don’t agree I end up with a better decision because we worked it through”.

The options are

Clients want to know their options — and rely on you to provide them. They want to know they have considered all the choices and made informed decisions. Sharing options also illustrates you have confidence and command of the situation.

I’m sorry

Things go wrong. It happens in the best of relationships.

Taking accountability is paramount. Clients understand things can go wrong. Own it and move on. An apology rivals a magical power making problems disappear.

Even if you are not at fault — apologize for the situation or the extra hassle your client incurred. You can’t show too much empathy for a client’s situation.

Here’s another way to look at it

Some partners are quick to point out they don’t practice law — they make law. Clients want you to challenge assumptions, precedents, and decisions. They want someone who can reinterpret the rules and make new arguments to change things — especially on the big issues.

Thank you — accept the compliment

Few professionals ever accept a compliment. Most will immediately explain their work process, what they did, how long it took, or otherwise start talking. Clients tell us this response tends to dilute the compliment and confidence — as if their performance has to be explained away.

We recommend saying a simple thank you. Maybe add “glad you liked it.” Then stop and smile. This exudes confidence with no hint of arrogance and tells clients you appreciate the fact you exceeded their expectations.

Accept every compliment. And — it never hurts to say thank you when you get a new assignment.

The phrases are not used lightly but at the right moment they can forge new strength in client relationships and convince clients you are the go-to source for their needs.

Best in the market ahead.

The Mad Clientist

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