Rainmaking Recommendation #257: The 2 Most Powerful Phrases a Rainmaker Can Learn

Two phrases will take a Rainmaker further than any other. 

No, it’s not “alternative billing” or “free consultation” (although those aren’t bad phrases). 

The two phrases are: 

“Thank You” and “I’m Sorry”

For some reason, these seem to be the most challenging phrases for many humans to say.  I’ve written about this before, but it seems more critical now. 


We love to be appreciated, and those two little words, “thank you,” go further in showing appreciation than anything else you could do. Unfortunately, we tend to get caught up in the day-to-day administrivia of it all, and we forget to say “thanks” for all of the things people do for us.  Make someone else feel better about the work they do for you and say “Thank You.” 

This goes for every area of your life.  Thank your significant other, your children, your administrative assistant, your associate, the Managing Partner.  Thank the person who held the door for you as you walked behind them.  Thank the cashier who checked you out.  Thank anyone who has ever done something to help you.  Thank them for even the small things they do.  You will be pleasantly surprised at how this will boomerang back at you by making you feel just as good as they do.  

More importantly, an immediate “thank you” can do wonders for your business. For example, I am working with a lawyer who has been getting some great referrals over the past year but tends to wait until the next time she speaks with the people who referred her new potential clients.   Recently, we discussed the power of the immediate “Thank you.” Stopping what she is doing for five minutes to contact the referral source instead of waiting and maybe forgetting to say those two little words have done more for increasing referrals than anything else she has done.    Why?  Because the referral source feels appreciated for the efforts that they have made and will want to continue that feeling by doing it more.

What if you get a referral, but it is not the right type for you?  Or there is a conflict of interest.  Even in that situation, please take a moment to thank the referring party and explain to them that this is not the proper referral and then tell them what the right referral is for you. 

On a more personal note, I recently sent a very close friend and colleague a referral.  To this day, she has yet to say “Thank you” for the referral.  Does this hurt my feelings?  Of course, it does!  I want to be acknowledged for trying to help her grow her business.  Will I continue to refer her business?  I haven’t decided yet; why would I continue to refer her business if I am not appreciated? 


People make mistakes.  Big mistakes, small mistakes.  Nonetheless, we are human, and mistakes can be the best way to learn. 

However, fear and pride usually stop us from saying, “I’m sorry.”

  • Fear of appearing weak or stupid,
  • Embarrassment for being or doing something wrong,
  • Fear of losing credibility with others,
  • Thinking that apologizing isn’t going to do anything to change the situation,
  • Thinking that if I don’t apologize, no one will notice the mistake.

Credibility and trust are two of your most prized assets as a Rainmaker. How can you be considered credible if you don’t take responsibility when you make a mistake? Will your clients trust you?

When used correctly, the words: “I’m sorry” can be potent for growing your book of business. Yet, not if they are empty words or words used when another phrase would have sufficed. For example, how often have you lightly bumped into someone, and the phrase “I’m sorry” automatically issues forth? I was one of those people. Someone graciously pointed out that I was apologizing for things for which  I did not need to apologize. Now, instead of the knee-jerk “I’m sorry” in that situation, I say “pardon me” or “excuse me.”

A heartfelt and sincere apology can enhance your reputation amongst your clients. Even for the small things. If you cannot keep a promise that you made to a client or prospect, like calling back when you said you would, genuinely apologize without giving excuses. The excuses are unnecessary. It will build trust with them, and they will like you even more.

Remember (as always) people do business with people they know, like, and trust. And from this viewpoint, an attorney cannot afford to ignore their mistakes and avoid apologizing. Nor can s/he not say “thank you” when they receive something from another. 

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