As lawyers, our job is to support our clients: we need to be sensitive to our clients’ needs and respond in an appropriate way. Whether in a corporation, where we support a business, or in private practice, lawyers must be able to connect with the human beings who are their clients to help them make important decisions. Each of us must find our own way of rendering advice that is consistent with our own personalities. When we do that, clients listen!
Consider this situation, the case of an attorney who is a relatively soft-spoken person. Her supervisor insists that when giving tough advice, she needs to yell and bang the table. In fact, that’s not who she is—it’s not a comfortable mode of communication for her. And in fact, she doesn’t need to do that to be taken seriously. Furthermore, if she does raise her voice and throw her weight around, her clients would ignore her advice because it is so much at odds with who they know her to be.
Taking on the persona of someone you’re not comes across falsely to clients and colleagues. You may find that the best way to give tough advice is to outline it before meeting with the clients. Consider how to tell them what they need to know and how to accomplish their goals in light of this knowledge. Base your advice and your mode of giving that advice on what you know about your audience, not on the way you assume they want to hear it or in the way other attorneys might have given it. Practice it, out loud, in your own voice, so you find the words that come most authentically from your mouth. You can do the same with communications you have with your supervisors and your peers.
Are there times when we, as attorneys, need to raise our voices and pound on the table, even virtually? Yes, of course! We might be in an adversarial situation in court or in negotiations where raising our voice may be most effective to support our clients. But we need to choose when to do that and how we will do that. We need to be comfortable making that choice and be aware of when to make that choice. Understanding when to make the choice takes experience and practice.
When we are faithful to ourselves and feel comfortable with how we express ourselves, others receive our communications with understanding, appreciation and trust. By being authentic, by not being persuaded to change to fit a stereotype (even by a supervisor), we can create the integrity for us to succeed in conveying what we need to convey in our own unique voice and be heard.
Wondering how to get started? Contact me and we can talk about how I can help!