Attorneys are in the business of representing clients. They serve. They're not the boss; they're partners. Nonverbal and verbal communication must match that status.
Sitting in his office, I wasn't there as a consultant or coach; I was there as a client. I'd heard good things about him. People said, "He's one of the best."
But when he put himself on a pedestal, I wasn't impressed. Standing while I was sitting, he literally talked down to me. He wasn't in rapport. And when he opened his mouth, things went from bad to worse.
He started the conversation saying, "Let me tell you what I know because that will save us both some time." I don't think he realized there're two interpretations for that. Neither is fitting for a professional, though.
In law, a lot of information needs to be manipulated. But in order to best accomplish that, we need some context. I mean, you can't just put ducks in a row for someone unless you know if they want them alphabetically or by height! So, ask questions and take information before you share everything you know.
It also doesn't serve you, when serving clients, to put yourself beneath them. Sure, gain clients' trust and lift their spirits. But there are better ways to do it than putting yourself down.
So, when serving clients, choose to sit at Mama Bear's place at the table. If you're talking down to them and not listening, that's Papa Bear's seat. It's hot, and you might get burned if you miss critical information or don't communicate well.
And if you're putting yourself down, that's Baby Bear's seat. And, Baby, it's cold down there! Hard to be taken seriously when there's an icicle on the end of your nose, ya know?
Now, Mama Bear, she's got the right idea! Not talking down, and not knocking self down either. Just equal with the client, where she's the expert on the law and the client is the expert on their needs and the facts of the case. It's ju-ust right.
Mama Bear knows that when she listens well, she gains details others might miss. That advantage can get her client a better outcome. And she doesn't get complaints for lack of communication. Plus, her clients love her because they feel heard and she gets results. So, she gets lots of referrals.
And by the way, Mama Bear also rocks (Did I really just say that?!) when it comes to staff communication for similar reasons.
Photo by Jessica Weiller on Unsplash