If you’ve been following this blog or my podcasts, you’d know that I sometimes refer to effective communication as being similar to the art of dancing. Making your point means properly planning and choreographing the delivery of your message.
One of the big challenges to effective communication is that sometimes things take time. Often, with time comes a lack of focus, misunderstanding, and even silence. This can result in missed opportunities, mixed messages and even hurt feelings.
Always make sure to keep the communication channels open. We do this in our law practice and you can do the same thing in your everyday efforts.
In the practice of law, not all news is good news for a client. Usually we are asked to get involved in a case after something bad or tragic has happened because of someone else’s wrongful or illegal conduct.
At the beginning of a new case, it’s critically important for us to step in, help, and bring value to the case. This means answering all the client’s questions and educating him or her on what the law is regarding their specific case. Many factors beyond our control often times come in to play. Things like who the other party is and who are the other lawyers, witnesses, doctors, experts, insurance companies and even a busy court schedule all keep things exciting.
For those of you who are interested, there are more than 100+ things we usually review and do in most cases (click here to see what I’m talking about) and so coordinating calendars, procedures and getting things done case be a bit challenging. Because many of the above, things don’t always happen when or the way we think they should.
This very real and sometimes chaotic dynamic of representing a client in a legal case can easily result in misunderstandings and unfair expectations between a lawyer and her client. To avoid as many of these pitfalls as possible, our secret is to always keep the channels of communication wide open.
We are honest in telling a client what we truthfully think about an issue or development in the case. It may not always be what the client wants to hear, but doing so keeps an open dialog between counsel and client and in the long-run, clients really appreciate this fact.
To help us do this with our clients, we recently incorporated a new 24/7 cloud based client portal which allows our clients immediate access case information, documents and upcoming calendar events. The service allows us to easily share with our clients what is or is not going on with his or her case. The end result is a constant and transparent communication channel between client and lawyer.
We try to use the same approach when communicating with our employees, family and friends. You can do the same thing.
Whatever you do for a living, make sure to always keep your dance ticket active and the dance moving forward. Don’t ever burn bridges and at all times, keep the communication channel open.
Be transparent and let the other person or side know exactly what is happening. Communicating your message with honest opinions and accurate information shared via phone calls, facsimiles, email, letters or your own 24/7 client portal is a good first start to making this happen.
Outside the Office
Giving your spouse, significant other, or child a hug while you address an unplanned negative issue that happened earlier in the day shows the other person that you care and you’ll always be there for them. Telling them that you’ll always make yourself available to discuss a particular issue and that it’s important to you that they know this is a good way to keep the communication channels open.
Conversation, dialog, and open communication with your clients, customers, employees, family and friends is an important arrow in every successful person’s quiver. It’s not always easy to do but it is necessary.
Looking back at almost 3 decades of practicing law, I can honestly say that being honest with clients and going out of my way to communicate with them and keep them informed has been one of the most important “business approaches or tools” I’ve ever used. Sure, it takes time and effort to do this but the ROI in doing so is invaluable.
If you’re not already focusing on keeping the avenues of communication open in your practice, business and life, start today. Doing so is one of the best communication tips I can share. You’ll reap big rewards if you do!