Last night, President Obama and Governor Romney attended the annual Al Smith charity event and proceeded to poke fun at each other throughout the evening (all with good intentions, of course).
The interplay between the two politicians underscored, once again, the importance of being a real human being even when doing the most serious or important work of your career. No one wants to elect a “stiff” or “distant” President, and in the same way no one wants to hire a “stiff” or “distant” lawyer or doctor. People and clients want their service providers to have a real connection to them. Certainly, they also want their providers to be intelligent and diligent, but once you get beyond the intelligence quotient, what makes people hire or not hire someone else is their ability to connect on a more personal level. To make them laugh, or think, or reflect upon whatever circumstance it is that brings them there.
Humor has always been a part of my life. As a physician and an attorney, I’m acutely aware of the serious nature of my business, both past and present. In one breath, I was managing people’s lives, and in another breath, I am now managing people’s livelihood. That’s serious business and no one would think otherwise.
But at the same time, what keeps my clients coming back (at least so far as they tell me) is my ability to connect with them on a personal level. To make them laugh, and think, and have a real conversation with someone who listens.
I remember I got a call about a year ago from an elderly gentleman who wanted to ask me about a potential malpractice action against the doctors who had treated his wife. She had subsequently passed, but as I spoke to him, I realized that all this man really wanted was someone to talk to. He just wanted a friend. Someone to listen to his story and say it was okay. So what did I do? I spent an hour on the phone with this man listening to his stories and trying to comfort him. And why? Because it was just the right thing to do. It wasn’t about money or prestige or what I would receive in return from him. It was just about being human.
I think that too many service providers in our country see their jobs as just jobs and forget about being a person at the same time. That’s just a decision that I’ll never make, and that’s why I love what I do. Because at the end of the day, we’re all just people, and if I can help my clients in some small way, while at the same time just being a real person that my clients can talk to and trust, I’ve done my job.