This week, I received a call from a prospective client that started with an unusual introduction. “I can’t find anyone who cares to help” she said. Her family had recently had a tragic event occur and she could not get any help from the insurance company or the people who caused the injury.
I regularly read ‘self-help” books on all kinds of topics that range from positive thinking, to leadership, to real estate. Most authors are trying to find some new nugget, to cause you to buy their book. Most of the time, the ideas may have a new application, but they still rely on foundations that have been written in many other books.
In my reading, I found one author who pointed me to an older book. In 1961, Carl ‘Rogers wrote “On Becoming a Person“. I learned that I did not agree with his basic premise on humanity. For now, I won’t go that direction. It would be like discussing the importance of the knotholes of Noah’s ark. For blog purposes, I try not to provide material to help take the place of counting sheep, when you are searching for sleep.
I did like Rogers’ first premise on building a relationship with others: “Be Genuine”. He wrote, “to be genuine, we must be aware of our feelings. We must then express the feelings and attitudes which exist within us”. Rogers was a therapist who believed that his patients were not objects, but rather fellow people.
I used to go to a primary care physician for check-ups, where I felt that “object” feeling. When anyone would present themselves to the receptionist/front desk, soon a voice over the intercom would announce that “you have a chart up front”. We had all been reduced to being a chart.
I am currently in the process of hiring more attorneys for the Richmond office. Part of my interview process includes asking “why do you want to work with clients?”. I usually receive some standardized response. It doesn’t mean that their answer is wrong, it just means that they have been studying some interview book. I try to get beyond “I like helping others” or “I just love the law”.
I heard a basketball coach once use the expression, “you can’t teach height”. In the practice of law, you really can’t teach someone to be genuine, who genuinely wants to help others. It’s either there or not. In my experience, those are the attorneys that really can make a difference in helping people. I guess the others can happily do insurance defense. (I know, I probably could have left that last opinion out, but I couldn’t help myself)
For pic o’ day, here’s a dog with recognition of feelings:
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