In the world of coaching, I frequently heard "Think outside the box" as being the best way to solve a problem. And I've said it, too. But now I'm reconsidering.
What if the best way to find better solutions is to, first, look within the box?
Communication training, for most of us, is limited. We learn subject, verb, predicate, etc, how to give a speech, and how to write an essay/report. In law school, we may also learn about writing a (not-so) brief and how to make an argument. But there's more to communication than that.
One thing we can learn is feedback. Not just the type where someone may holler at us or send a nasty email, but through subtle, nonverbal communication. How would your practice improve if you used an early warning system, giving you time to respond before things got out of hand? And that's just one listening skill we all have, but may not have developed fully.
There's another listening skill that is gifted to all of us at birth, and yet few of us actually know its benefits or how to use it effectively. This skill can help us de-escalate, gain more information, buy time, earn the right to speak without interruption, and much more. It's silence. Even if all we did was focus more on these two listening skills, our client communication, staff communication, and other relationships could all improve exponentially. But there's another one that offers us a whole new eschelon of communication opportunities. Rapport.
Rapport can allow us to build influence and relationships better, and we can leverage that to lead conversations or de-escalate. This can also help us keep our days and conversations on track with a simple extra step. If this seems like an add-on, it's really not; like the others, this is a natural ability that we all have and can hone for even better results.
The law may not always be strongly in our favor, and we may face other challenges as well, But that's no reason to throw in the towel. We don't always have to look for external resources in order to boost our chances for a successful outcome. We've got plenty in our toolbox already. And, perhaps best of all, they cannot be taken away from us and they can be used in almost any conversation. They're sustainable, flexible, and powerful, naturally-occurring communication resources.
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash