I was reading the results of a consumer report survey that said 78% of respondents said that lenders need to be reined in. This surprised me. Sure those lending professionals who were unethical should be reigned in (and many are in front page headlines) but that’s not 78%. Could it be that those few unethical lending professionals made a bad name for all? Could it be that people are just looking for a skapegoat for their financial problems? I’m sure there’s some truth to both of these reasons but I suspect there’s something more fundamental going on that I read about in Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Blink.”
In Section five of the book entitled “Listening to Doctors” Gladwell talks about various studies on the incidences of malpractice among doctors.Â Â The studies show that the risk of being sued for malpractice has little to do with the number of mistakes you make.Â In fact there he foundÂ something completely different.
He found the element that corresponded most to the risk of doctors being sued was: how the patients were treated on a personal level by their doctor.Â Did they have a relationship with their doctor?Â Was he snotty with them?Â Negative?Â Condescending?
One study Gladwell mentions provides some interesting pointers to you, no matter what your profession. Doctors who spent even a few minutes longer in consultations with patients, who gave orienting comments explaining the process, who were active listeners and who had a sense of humor/tried to be funny were much much much less likely to be sued for malpractice even though they made just as many mistakes as other doctors (who WERE sued).
Gladwell brings out instances where patients went to lawyers and said “I want to sue my specialist”. After reviewing the case the lawyer would say actually it wasn’t the specialist that was at fault it’s your primary doctor. The patient would insist on suing the wrong doctor, despite the evidence, just because they felt like they were not treated well.
Gladwell points out that it is all about your tone of voice with your clients, are you dominant or concerned?Â That one aspect (tone of voice) makes all the difference in the world.
So…how are you treating your clients these days? How long does it take you to return a client’s phone call? When was the last time you sat down with a client to actually explain your opinion letter to them?