When Clients Question Your Motives

For an interesting article discussing what to do if a potential or current client questions your motives, read David Maister’s thoughts on integrity impugned. 

Lawyers working across cultures should be prepared that such client may question you indirectly, depending on the cultural norms. So, pay attention lest such a client question  slip by unnoticed. 

If a client does question your motives, adapt the possible responses listed by Maister to make them culturally appropriate–softer and more indirect, for example. Or, as Maister suggests, ask the clients a few questions in return (again matching the client’s level of directness, pitch and tone) and try to figure out why.  

In the international arena, differences in communication style can create mistrust.  You may find that your direct, American approach has come across as too aggressive for the client’s taste, especially in cultures which value harmony.  Trust is the goal:  build it and maintain it for cross-cultural success.

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