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First, let me say that the potential for ironic failure in this blog post is not lost on me. Here I am, communicating with you on how to communicate effectively. Like the applicant who notes their attention to detail but doesn’t spot the numerous typos in their CV, I could be opening myself up to very easy criticism.
Feel free to roll your eyes or skip yet another blog on “soft skills” – you don’t need to believe or accept any of what is written below. But let me at least explain why I feel so passionately about this particular topic.
I Am Lawyer: Hear Me Bore
Let’s face facts: lawyers have a natural tendency to err on the side of “more is more” when it comes to communication, whether it be big words or long sentences (let’s call this a propensity for verbosity, just to prove my point).
You can give any number of reasons for this. For example, we are often dealing with risky subject matters (no one consults their lawyer when the answer is simple or obvious), so it is human nature to take care and make sure all bases are covered. However, this often translates into layer upon layer of caveat and equivocation.
The vast majority of my time is spent, in one form or another, communicating with my colleagues or with our customers – I would say verging on 80%. So it is clearly something I need to make sure I am doing as effectively as possible, otherwise I’m just creating hot air, noise and little else…and boring everyone in the process.
I make no pretence that I get it right every time – I absolutely don’t – but I know it has to be one of the skills I prioritise for constant development and refinement.
Hearing v Listening
The fundamental message I want to get across is that effective communication is critical to what lawyers do every day: if you cannot make your point clea
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