Read this if you are a coach, trainer, reiki master, or anyone who offers services to individual clients. And read it if you are looking for one.
The year was 2000. We were involved in settling a lawsuit following a car accident in which the other driver was at fault. The lawyer we hired was becoming more and more difficult to reach. Phone calls would take a day to return, then two days, then three or four. The case was dragging on and the medical bills were piling up.
One particular day I spoke with the lawyer's secretary and allowed some of my frustration to show through. Her response made everything crystal clear. She told me the lawyer was really busy with one of his other clients. There was a big contract negotiation and it was taking up a lot of his time.
I'm sure it never occurred to her that to talk about another case with a client was unprofessional. And I'm sure it never occurred to her that giving the perception that someone else's case was more important than mine was probably not a good idea.
I don't remember if I kept quiet to her. I do remember writing the lawyer a letter saying if he was not going to give our case the proper attention we would find an attorney who would.
When people go to an attorney, or a chiropractor, or a counselor, therapist, coach, astrologer, etc. they have a problem they want solved. Whether it's a big problem or small problem is irrelevant. It's a big enough problem to them that they're asking for help.
Those of us in the helping profession sometimes forget the role we play in the lives of our clients. Often they not only have the problem that motivated them to find us in the first place, they also experience a sense of disempowerment. It's one thing to have the problem. It's something completely different to find someone who's willing to listen and engage in helping you find a solution.
It's what I've been telling my counseling students for years...the most powerful support you can give your clients is listening. Once someone feels important enough to command your full attention, they begin to find new and different ways to fix their own problems.
If I'm working with a coaching client in a one on one or small group situation, that person is the center of my universe for the time I'm working with them. It's more than their having paid for the time and attention. Giving oneself fully to another enriches both parties.
On the other side of the coin, I've turned clients away or referred them to someone else if I'm not ready to focus on them or they have an issue that's beyond the skill I have to help.
It's professionalism. It's making your client's needs - big or small - the most important aspect of your relationship.
And it means giving them the attention and commitment we all want for ourselves.
Be professional. It's not about having a degree. It's about making a choice to constantly get better at what you do and be completely present for those who put their trust in you.
Your Professional Pal,