Amanda realizes that by working on her interpersonal skills her client interactions have become better.
Being personable is a great characteristic to have when running a small law firm or solo firm. Unironically, most attorneys struggle to harness this characteristic as well as many others that will help them gain, retain and receive more clients.
In this week’s #FollowAtorrneyAmanda, Amanda talks about her desire to improve her interpersonal relationship skills when it comes to dealing with clients and in life.
Follow along and see what tools she has been using and how she’s already seen some success in her new practices.
Hi, I’m attorney Amanda Shaffer. Today I want to talk about improving interpersonal relationship skills. I just got back from my honeymoon and at the insistence of my husband, who just got his MBA from Columbia, I started reading books about dealing with people. So I read over the break, “How to Make Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie and now I’m reading “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”
I think that this is another incredibly important skill for everyone, but especially for a small firm, because you’re dealing with so many different types of people. And I’ve wanted to improve on these skills for a while and a lot of times when I talk to my husband about my theories on how to get people to do what you want or make a good impression, he’s like, “you should read this book.” It was a great book and I am going to talk about some of the things in there, because it doesn’t apply in all contexts, but I’ve already used the methods since I’ve been back for a couple of days with a bunch of clients and it’s worked beautifully.
The biggest thing that I’ve found it helps with is dealing with disgruntled clients. So by just saying like, “I understand your frustration, I would be frustrated too, if I were you” when you start a response like that to an angry email, and I don’t – honestly, I don’t get that many, but especially when you’re away and people want things done, you tend to get those. So when I started in a manner like that, the responses are much more receptive and then they end up being much more patient in the long run. So I’m trying to improve my skills here. Socially, it’s better too. It’s not going to help me in a courtroom, which is one of the things that I was surprised about in the book. There was a Supreme court case, talked about the lawyer in the Supreme court who argued it was – took this class that Dale Carnegie – I guess they still have these classes – the book was written over 80 years ago. And he said that the judge said, “Isn’t the statute of limitation six years?” And he said, “No, your honor, there is no statute of limitations.” Then the guy goes on to say how the judge didn’t like how he responded and that he shouldn’t have been so a matter of fact about it, even though he was right, which makes no sense as it’s a Supreme Court argument. If he would have been like, “I think it’s this, or I believe you’re mistaken” then he would have said, “I don’t care what you believe, because this is a Supreme Court. We don’t have time for your beliefs. We have time for facts.”
So I have to take the book with a grain of salt, of course. But so far what I’ve found is that I want to change just how I interact with people in general. I want everything to be positive – all of my interactions to be positive. I want to think about other people more or listen to other people more and find things to praise and find things to point to that we have in common. And I’m pretty confident that this is going to get me a lot more business because, half – I don’t know, half the time, whatever percentage of time it is that we’re spending dealing with people and convincing them to hire us or not to fire us, or, again, that doesn’t luckily happen too much, but just dealing with all different types of things. I’m going to try with some opposing counsel to win cases to see if I can get people to do more of what I want. But I’m excited because this is a very positive step. Something that I’ve needed to do for a long time. A lot of us do need to brush up on our skills and don’t think about it, or don’t think that there’s no one right way to go about it. Yes, there are classes, but I didn’t even know – honestly knew there were classes till I read that book. So the fact is that it has encouraged me and I’m going to continue to try to find books like this and talk about them because I think anyone who is a solo lawyer or small firm would find a book – these books helpful in dealing with people.
As I said, the first person that I sent an email to, was an incredibly positive response. Now the other thing that I’m looking at with this book that I need to figure out is that when you follow the methods, it seems to become very wordy and as lawyers, we’re taught to be succinct. So I have to try to be succinct without sounding aggressive or rude, especially in an email or a text where you know that the other person might be interpreting it differently. When that book was written, there were no such things as email or texts. So these things weren’t all taken into consideration, of course, but it’s something to build up. So that is all today for #FollowAttorneyAmanda. I’ll be back next time probably to talk about more interpersonal relationships or to check back in and tell you how my campaigns have been going since I got back from work. We have a couple of things in the work I’m excited to talk about. Thank you for watching and have a great day.