Juan and I discussed a particularly difficult client yesterday, someone who likes to control any agenda he comes near. The client's strategy of choice is to ask questions about whatever issue pops into his mind, especially if it is not related to the particular issue presented by the lawyer. This kind of a client is a troubling one for Juan and me, because we tend to be "pleasers." Clients don't need us to be pleasers, they need us to be lawyers.
Juan spoke to his father about this kind of client. Juan's father is a very experienced and successful real estate broker. His father described "the Three R's" as his way of dealing with these kinds of situations: Repeat, Reassure, and Resume.
Thus, when one is presenting the matter at hand to the client and the client wants to talk about something else, then the lawyer repeats the point he or she has made. Then the lawyer reassures the client that his question is an important one and that it will be addressed some other time. Finally, the lawyer resumes the discussion of the matter at hand.
This cycle may go on for quite some time and doesn't necessarily get things back on track the first time around. Or the 12th time.
Obviously, this approach would be useful in relationships in addition to the attorney-client or broker-customer relationships where one stands in any sort of fiduciary relationship with another.