Communication Skills for Lawyers (and Others)

From Coaching for Attorneys: Improving Productivity and Achieving Balance, Chapter 8, Communication Skills for Lawyers:

A Model of Effective Communication

Before you have a conversation with someone, consider the following:

1. What is my desired outcome?so it is important to be very clear. Imagine yourself at the end of the conversation that went exactly as you wanted. What is your result? In other words, what are you walking away with (information, feeling, etc.)? What is the other person walking away with?

Following are examples of the same scenario, but different desired outcomes.

Example #1: As an outcome, I want my secretary to think about what is making her late and to choose a different process for getting to work in the morning so that she will solve this problem herself and start to be on time. As a further outcome, I want her to know it is unacceptable to be late because it lowers staff morale puts us behind schedule for our day, and is in contradiction to the agreements we have made.

 Example #2: As an outcome, I want her to start being on time immediately and to know she will be fired if she does it again.

2. What is my purpose? Consider why you are having this conversation. What is your reason?

Example #1: My purpose is to have everyone on the same page about being to work on time, working as a team and raising office morale. I want my secretary to look at the problem and be empowered to solve it. I also want to have this conversation to show that we will not ignore these kinds of things.

Example #2: My purpose is to demonstrate a zero tolerance attitude for tardiness, so she will change her behavior or be made an example so others do not believe they an come in late or break other rules.

3. Am I in the right frame of mind/emotional state? It is important to do these steps in order. Now that you know your purpose and desired outcome, notice how you are feeling about the situation and see if you are in a state of mind that will facilitate the outcome you are after.

Example #1: If I am feeling angry, I do not believe it will help me get the result I am after. So I will wait until I have cooled off.
Example #2: If I really am mad at my secretary for being late I may believe that letting her see this anger will be helpful in getting the result hat I want. As such, I may consciously choose to talk to her when I am angry.

This model allows you to observe your internal state and make a conscious choice about whether to talk to another person in this state or not.

About the Author

Picture of Cami McLaren

Cami McLaren

is the owner of McLaren Coaching. She has been coaching professionals and leaders since early 2008. She runs Transformative Coaching Essentials, a coach training program that produces first rate Professional Coaches and "Coach-Style Leaders." She coaches individually and works with organizations to improve communication, time management, productivity and ultimately bring greater results.

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