Tips for Lawyers: How to Handle a Crying Client
It’s 5:00PM on Friday and you’re in a fabulous mood. You’ve worked so hard and you’re ready to start your weekend off right. Just as you start to pack your bag, the phone rings. You recognize the number – it’s that client that calls crying every week. Your mood instantly changes. What do you do?
1. Acknowledge that your client is sad and upset. You can’t just ignore that your client is crying. You must acknowledge it. Tell your client that you understand this is a very difficult and stressful time.
2. Take deep breaths. If you can remain calm, chances are that you can help your client calm down. If you become upset or annoyed, you’re only going to make the situation worse.
3. Tell your client that crying is okay. Reassure your client that crying is not an unreasonable reaction, given what your client is going through. Be as empathetic as possible. This should help your client calm down a bit.
4. Remind your client that you and your staff are there to help. Remind your client that you are on his or her side. Explain that you are there to fight his or her battles. If you have staff, remind your client that your staff is also there to help. Make your client feel more confident. Remind your client that he or she in good hands.
5. Move the conversation along. Finally, must transition the conversation to more productive matters. This is critical. You need the client to look ahead. Start talking about the next steps you and your firm will be taking. Bring the conversation back to your goals. Talk about the bigger picture. If you do not do this, your client may just keep crying.
If you have a client that is simply inconsolable, practice Step 1 through 3 to the best of your ability. Then, tell the client that you can take a break and pick up the conversation at a better time. If you don’t reschedule the call, the sobbing may only get worse. Of course, use your best judgment.