Years ago I read The Trusted Advisor by David Maister, Charles H. Green and Robert F. Galford. It was one of the first books I had read that I felt really applied to lawyers.
I was so impressed that we formed a group of lawyers at my old firm who read the book together and met monthly to share ideas. We actually captured our main takeaways in two PowerPoint presentations and shared those with other lawyers in the firm.
Let me share one example I found helpful:
In The Trusted Advisor the authors made a point that technical skills are not enough. You have to see the world from your clients point of view.
They quote Stephanie Wethered, an Episcopal priest who describes our ability to emphatically listen as being in direct relation to how closely we can feel what the other person feels. The authors then list 23 things that good listeners do. According to Maister, Green and Galford, they:
- Probe for clarification
- Listen for unvoiced emotions
- Listen for the story
- Summarize well
- Listen for what’s different, not for what’s familiar
- Take it all seriously (they don’t say, “You shouldn’t worry about that”)
- Spot hidden assumptions
- Let the client “get it out of his or her system”
- Ask “How do you feel about that?”
- Keep the client talking (“What else have you considered?”)
- Keep asking for more detail that helps them understand
- Get rid of distractions while listening
- Focus on hearing your version first
- Let you tell your story your way
- Stand in your shoes, at least while they’re listening
- Ask you how you think they might be of help
- Ask what you’ve thought of before telling you what they’ve thought of
- Look at (not stare at) the client as he or she speaks
- Look for congruity (or incongruity) between what the client says and how he or she gestures and postures
- Make it seem as if the client is the only thing that matters and that they have all the time in the world
- Encourage by nodding head or giving slight smile
- Are aware of and control their body movements (no moving around, shaking legs, fiddling with a paper clip)
These are great tips and just one reason The Trusted Advisor is well worth reading, and sharing ideas.