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  • Writer's pictureElisse Gabriel

Leave Your Ego at the Door

One of the best pieces of professional advice I’ve ever received was to “leave your ego at the door” while editing someone else’s work or writing for a client. In other words, pay attention to your client’s voice, tone and style without infusing your own into it.

I recently met up with a septuagenarian woman who wanted to create a website, her first one ever. In her query, she noted that she had moved from Paradise to Sebastopol. Knowing that the fire had devastated the majority of homes in Paradise, I assumed the worst. Upon meeting her, I discovered that my hunch was sadly true—she had lost her home and all her belongings in the devastating fire and needed to begin anew.

Until this point, she did not have a web presence. Her business had grown over the years simply through word-of-mouth. At her son’s urging, however, she decided it was time to create a website, the first step towards growing her new practice.

While this woman had a dramatic, riveting life story, she didn’t want any mention of her flight from Paradise, nor of what inspired her becoming a social worker and therapist. Rather, she wanted to focus solely on her experience, her qualifications, and approach. Her flight from Paradise would have made a riveting story, but it was not the story she wanted to tell.

While chatting with her in person and reading her notes, I was able to capture her way of communicating, which shines with innate empathy and compassion. Her specialized training may offer a framework of confidence, but her warm, reassuring manner is what will convince those seeking therapy that she's the real deal. After all, her voice—not mine—is the one potential clients will be hearing, and it’s my job to act not so much as the driver but the conduit to make that happen.

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