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As many of my readers know, I always encourage you to contact me with business communication topics in which you’re interested or are seeking my assistance.  This is an effective way to use my expertise as a resource for you and your colleagues.

Yesterday, I reached out to a former client seeking his recommendation on a referral for one of my colleagues.  Much to my sheer delight, here’s what occurred: first, he responded to my request the same day; second, he asked me to comment on the subject of this post…which he referred to as a  “thought break.”  (This struck me as an interesting term.)

My client explained it this way:

“Sometimes, in a client meeting, my role is to keep talking because I am the lawyer and they’re paying me. This is not always best service because sometimes legal advice improves with thought. What would be a courteous way to take a “thought break” when meeting with a client, or in any business meeting?”

What an excellent point and one I feel many of us have encountered; perfect subject for this week’s post! It’s quite understandable to feel the pressure of needing to constantly provide information for those we serve (and to assume that this is what the client is paying us to do and expecting nothing less).  However, as my client points out, this may not always be in the person’s best interest if they don’t have time to process what you’re presenting.

Here are my five recommendations to address this concern:

a. Let the client know (either in advance when the meeting is scheduled or in-person) that you will build in time throughout the meeting for their comments, thoughts, questions so that they receive the full value of what’s being discussed.

b. Send the client an agenda for the upcoming meeting, which reflects periodic breaks for processing the various topics. (This can be hard copy or electronic.)

c.  Once the meeting is in progress, suggest a couple of stretch breaks and offer your clients a beverage as well as letting them know where the restrooms are located. (During this period, they’ll have a chance to mull over what you’ve just discussed.) 

d. Have several open-ended questions at your fingertips to sprinkle throughout your meeting to encourage the “thought break.”  Some examples to consider:  Before we move on, what are your reactions to what you’ve heard?  I realize some of this is new information so how do you think this impacts you?  Based on what we’ve just covered, what comments or questions are going through your mind?

e.  After giving your clients a “thought break” ask them for feedback on this approach and to what extent they found it beneficial.

 

To me, the concept of a “thought break” shows your clients that you genuinely care and is a clear indicator of providing value.   Give this a try and please let me know how well this approach works for you and your clients.

Thank you to my client for this excellent topic suggestion!

 

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