Nothing causes trouble in legal practice quite like communication failures.
Communication is one of the most common sources of malpractice claims.
Honing proactive and effective communication skills has significant positive implications for everything from delegation, to the quality of your work, and the health of your personal and professional relationships.
With this in mind, focusing on improving your communication practices is probably one of the best investments you can make in your career. Where to start is quite simple, with your thoughts.
What are you thinking when you postpone communicating? And how is that serving you?
I work with many lawyers on practice challenges and many of these come down to how they are thinking about communication.
The thought is essentially this: Now is not the best time to communicate about this.
Here is how this thought plays out in practice.
I don’t need to communicate to the partner about my progress on the draft right now. I will get this draft to the partner when it is complete.
Think again. Talk to the partner about when she would like you to check in. You can’t read her mind and she may want an update sooner.
There’s not enough time to respond to this client, their matter isn’t urgent, and nothing is happening right now so I will get back to them later.
Think again. They are wondering what is going on and even if the answer is nothing they need to hear from you. Respond to their email.
These may not be your version of – I will do it later – so do look for what is, and catch the thoughts, and think again.
I recommend a Monday morning, or even daily practice of asking this question:
Who do I need to communicate with this week? And today? And make these communications priorities on your to do list.
When we are caught up in the flow of a non-stop stream of work and deadlines it gets very easy to forget to communicate. This simple practice of checking in with the question – who do I need to communicate with? – will help you keep up.
This post originally appeared in the Lawyer With A Life Blog