As lawyers and attorneys, having difficult conversations with clients is a regular occurrence and something we can all say we probably don’t LOVE doing. Let’s face it, our clients don’t always look forward to talking about what happens after they die and they probably don’t appreciate thinking about tragic unforeseen circumstances that could occur. It is our job and responsibility, fellow lawyers and attorneys, to tackle these conversations HEAD ON and make our client feel comfortable and respected. Here are our 5 Tips To Become A Master At Difficult Lawyer Conversations:
1. Try Their Shoes On
This may seem like an odd thing to say – and we are being serious. Try your clients shoes on. Not literally but remember that old saying mom used to hound into you? Always put yourself in someone else’s shoes. This could not be more true for lawyers and attorneys. This is a job to you but talking about a living will or estate planning is definitely not my grandparents cup of tea.
2. Open Your Ears
I hear this advice over and over again! Clients just want to feel like they have been listened to and heard! As a lawyer, you are probably very good at debating and using words that the client doesn’t understand because they do not have a background in law. Slow down, open your ears, pay full attention and listen to what your client wants. This is so crucial when talking about wills, trusts, estate planning, living wills, or anything of this nature.
3. Plan Your Conversation
No matter if this is a new client or an existing client of your law firm, always go into difficult conversations with a plan of action. Know what you want to talk about, what you want to get across and where you want the conversation to go – always keep the end in mind.
4. We All Know This Is Uncomfortable, But…
What better way to tackle the conversation than to address the elephant in the room? You would be surprised how obviously more uncomfortable it is when both lawyer and client are trying to avoid talking directly about that huge elephant. “We all know this is uncomfortable and probably not something you want to talk about, but let’s tackle it together and come up with a solution” – You’re Welcome
5. Sugar Coating – Don’t Do It!
This tip is relatively self explanatory but it’s a top tip that will help you in the long run. Don’t sugar coat anything to your client. You will gain trust from them and never have to have that awkward conversation of “Well, it was worse than what I originally told you”.
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