Are You Listening?
July 25, 2012
Do you find yourself frustrated because you think no one is listening to you? I think this is a very common experience in all of our lives — at parties, at the office, at home (how many of you have spouses who seem to interrupt you all the time?).
Worse, people may complain that you don’t listen to them. That’s a problem. As lawyers, one of the most important things we can do is listen to the people around us. By listening, we have a better chance of retaining new clients, figuring out what’s really bothering a client so we can effectively represent him/her, learning how to deal with opposing counsel, and discovering weak spots in an opponent’s position.
I don’t know about you, but I think true listening skills in the legal profession are rare. We’re too busy to slow down and actually pay attention to what someone is saying. As a result, we miss a lot.
That’s why I was interested when I ran across an article, “A Lawyer’s Recipe for Better Listening,” on the Legal Productivity blog. According to the article, consider the following four steps to improve your listening skills:
1. Stay quiet. Don’t interrupt. Let the other person finish.
2. Don’t think ahead while someone is speaking to you. Don’t let your personal filters get in the way of hearing what the other person is trying to tell you.
3. Wait for the speaker to note that he/she has made his/her point. If the person doesn’t explicitly say so, ask (nicely) if the person is finished speaking.
4. Repeat the speaker’s point back to him/her. There are two reasons for doing this: (1) you can make sure you’ve really heard what the person is saying; and (2) you let the speaker know you’re paying attention. When I was practicing, I found this technique to be especially useful in meetings with prospective clients.
Please let me know how this helps you!