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Our blog about communicating throughout conflict

3 Tips for Good Client Communication

People like to be kept in the loop, especially when it involves a legal case. There's just something about turning over a big deal to a stranger, you know?  So, the question becomes, "How do we keep clients in the loop?"

Clients may not like to make calls for status updates. Sometimes they feel annoyed at having to. Other times they hate to "be a bother." But there are ways to handle this, and following these suggestions for client communication benefits both you and the client.

1.) Set a reasonable expectation for the client.

Say when you hope to know more, and invite them to contact you if they haven't heard from you by then. This does a number of things: 1.) It empowers the client, which can help to put them at ease. And whe a client is at ease, the job has one less complication. 2.) It can be a good trigger. Set a reminder to follow through on the case a few days ahead of when you suggested the client call. Of course, feel free to call ahead of time, too, especially if you...

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Don't make a funny face...It might freeze like that!

Imagine you are interacting with a person and you notice something about their nonverbal communication. Maybe they seem aloof, and it's not consistent with your experience of them. That'd be a great time to engage listening skills such as asking questions. Investigate. And if we don't really know that person well, this step becomes all the more important.

We can get a lot of data from nonverbal cues. So much, in fact, that the mind can easily be overwhelmed and need to filter down the numbers significantly as part of its own defense mechanism. It may also make assumptions and sell them to you as fact.

The worst part of this is that our minds may also "freeze frame" the person in that event. We may think, "If they were like that once that's who they always will be." So, it won't just affect that interaction, but may also color future interactions as well. At its extreme, it may even run away with the past: "Is that why that time in college...? And, you know, I didn't think much about...

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Don't Hit the Brakes When You're Getting in Front of Conflict!

"Get in front of it." People say that a lot lately. But when it comes to conflict, that may be easier said than done. Yet, it's important for conflict resolution. 

You want to keep conflict from growing and requiring more complex conflict resolution efforts. You need to nip it in the bud. That means recognizing the presence or possibility of it as early as possible and taking fast, effective action in response.

One thing you need, then, is to be able to recognize the early warnings. You have to be skilled in observing subtle nonverbal communication and other listening skills. It's your earliest and most accurate information.

You also have to know what to do once you recognize it. You don't want to hit the brakes or stall after you get in front of it. In other words, you need a plan.

I used to really dislike the idea of systems and plans, but they do have a few things going for them. They can reduce decision fatigue and improve consistency. And when it comes to conflict, they can...

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Swear to Tell the Truth...

I grew up around some people who swore so fluently it almost became its own language. They could string them together as if they were prose. I didn't swear until I was 19, though, and I remember where I was when it happened.

In the lounge on my floor in the college dorm, my swear became a newsworthy event. People spilled out of the lounge laughing in surprise on their way to tell others. It was so unheard of that people stood up and took notice. And that can be a good thing at times.

Some conversations just need to be interrupted, and a well-timed swear coming from someone who doesn't swear in place of um's can be an effective way of getting people's attention. It's just unusual enough that someone might do a bit of a double take, wondering if they'd heard right and, if so, what warranted it. Pattern interrupts like that can be a great strategy at times. (I'm not saying it has to be a swear, just that it can be.)

A swear can also be a means of blowing off a little steam. Some people...

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