Tell Me What’s Going On

Pamela Jones is an estate planning attorney.  She took my Enrollment & Accountability class and shares here how she uses the skill we have been writing about to truly gain understanding of a client’s desires and needs, so she can enroll that person in the service that is right for her.  Check out Pam’s website at


It is so easy to think that I know why a client has come to see me.  But I am always surprised at the real reasons behind a client’s desire to set up an estate plan.  I quickly learned that jumping to a conclusion or making an assumption about a client’s needs only ends up in a confusing conversation in which no one understands the purpose of what we are doing and why we are doing it.

Other times, the client makes the assumptions.  “I need a trust”.  That is a statement that I hear a lot when a client makes an appointment with me.  Someone, at some time, has told this potential client, we’ll call her Dolly, that a trust will solve all of her problems.  She is not sure how a trust will solve all of her problems, but everyone else is doing it and she is pretty sure that is what she needs to do.

Asking questions, and more questions, about Dolly’s situation stops me from jumping to conclusions and making bad assumptions.  “Tell me what’s going on” is my new start to any client meeting after we have established rapport through conversation.  Dolly’s answers to this broad question help me to ask more questions to drill down to what is important to Dolly.  I can then understand how to best meet her needs.  The questions can also help Dolly to recognize the value in creating an estate plan. For example, Dolly may have very strong feelings about being cremated.  She is surprised to learn that her partner of ten years had no idea that she felt so strongly about this issue.   She immediately wants to get her beliefs in writing.

Our conversation reveals Dolly’s true concerns and needs.  She may need a trust and she may not.  By targeting Dolly’s concerns and needs and showing her how a specific plan will meet those needs helps to enroll her in the value of an estate plan and my services.

About the Author

Cami McLaren

Cami McLaren

is the owner of McLaren Coaching. She has been coaching attorneys and management since early 2008. She wrote a book, published by the American Bar Association, "Coaching for Attorneys: Improving Productivity and Achieving Balance." She coaches attorneys and managers one-on-one, and provides in-house training designed to improve productivity and bring accountability to the organization.

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