The Golden Rule of Communication: Does It Apply to Your Law Firm?
How well are you communicating?
As an attorney, you are constantly communicating. Whether it’s writing emails or briefs, in person, or on the phone, every interaction you have requires you to do it effectively. You need to engage with a variety of different audiences, including clients, witnesses, judges, attorneys, and juries, so having the skill to adapt and deliver your message correctly is key to your success. But while it may seem like a pretty straightforward thing, many attorneys aren’t masters at the art of communication. With that in mind, here are some tips on improving these skills:
Follow the golden rule
Remember when you were a kid and your mother told you to treat others as you would want to be treated? Well, the same goes for communication. How does it make you feel when someone interrupts you, talks over you, or appears as if they aren’t listening when you speak to them? Remember to allow others to finish speaking before you respond and to not raise your voice (unless you’re doing so for dramatic appeal during your opening or closing arguments). Although you may feel passionate about the case or the subject matter, it’s important to be mindful of how your communication is going to be perceived.
Consider your audience
Before you speak or write, think about who your audience is. For example, a brief intended for a judge should provide the right information to achieve the result you’re looking for. A motion to compel, for example, will likely include a lot more background and information than if you were shooting off an email to a client to update him or her on the case.
It’s not uncommon for attorneys to give too much or too little information, or be scattered in their communication rather than focusing on the most necessary points to accomplish, whatever the goal may be. A good practice is to ask yourself these questions: Who am I talking to? What do I want this person to do, say, think, or feel?
Give your ego a rest
It’s not always easy to let go of vanity or insecurities. But when you’re attempting to get a point across, no matter the audience, communication should be about them and what you hope to impart while interacting with them. Thoughtfulness (that golden rule again), creativity, and intelligence are always a good bet.
Keep it short and sweet
‘As short as possible, as long as necessary’ is a great rule to follow when you’re creating any sort of communication. Overwhelming your audience with too much information will just ensure that they stop listening or stop reading. If you want to grab someone’s attention and keep it, it’s best to make it as concise and to the point as possible. Some attorneys become verbose and their communication becomes ineffective.
Listen, listen, listen
One of the biggest complaints people have when dealing with doctors, lawyers, and other highly-skilled professionals is that these folks just don’t listen to them. It’s tempting to rush a client or a junior attorney out of your office when you have about a million other important things to take care of. But listening is a skill you need to master in order to communicate effectively. Lend an attentive ear to everyone you’re engaging with and you’ll find that you not only gain respect and attention back from them, but that every encounter you have will be more productive.
Being an effective communicator does not come naturally to everyone. But if you follow these tips and remember the golden rule, you’ll find you can improve your skills and make the most of every interaction.
If you’re looking for more ways to improve your practice, keep checking our blog. And if you need a real-time court reporter, get in touch with us today. We have the most experienced and highly skilled team in the industry. Fill out our online form to request a quote or give us a call at 954-467-6867.