Emotional intelligence is no longer a ‘nice to have’ skill set. You must improve your emotional intelligence to successfully deal with today’s legal consumer.
“If I wanted to talk about emotions, I wouldn’t have gone to law school’, was the amusing reply I got when I explained that I help lawyers learn to let go and delegate effectively for a living. I had to laugh because I get that a lot.
As lawyers, we are conditioned to prize logic over emotion. So it makes perfect sense that you don’t want to hear how your clients feel about things, or listen waiting for the good part (the facts). I get that. This limiting belief made my early days as a mediator tough but I learned to love seeing the emotion in others.
Used to be you went to a lawyer to ‘see reason’. Times have changed.
It’s time for Client-Centric Law Practices
Clients expect you to understand their experiences as a client and respond to those challenges with your services. Clients expect to have a better client experience with you, meaning not the cold Dragnet thing lawyers typically do. Eh, just the facts, ma’am.
That’s what I mean when I say a ‘better client experience’. Clients want to get a legal solution that comes with a side helping of comfort, reassurance, and hope. Have you checked out Nika Kabari’s Avvo whitepaper called In the Hot Seat: How Understanding Stress Can Grow your Practice?
It’s a goldmine of data to help you understand your client’s feelings and concerns about having a legal issue and hiring a lawyer. 87% are concerned about the cost. 87% feel ‘stuck’ and of that 98 % feel stressed. Think about that.
Doesn’t that remind you of the homebuying experience, right? Who hasn’t felt that dread of buying the wrong house or not getting the best mortgage rate?
You can increase your soft skills to meet this client need with learning and practice. Not up for that? That’s fine if you don’t mind getting left behind.
Smart lawyers who want growing business are going to make customer service a top priority.
What you might not realize is that you must also use EQ to take care of your own emotional health.
Your clients aren’t the only ones who need you to have high emotional intelligence. You need it to take better care of your emotional health.
Lawyering is stressful and lonely.
Let’s be real. Law school is rough on a person’s emotional health. If the crushing pace didn’t get you, the John Houseman-like law professors or passive-aggressive, ostracizing classmates did! I don’t think that was just me.
The stats don’t lie. 28% of lawyers are battling depression and 19% are fighting anxiety.
You really need to create self-care systems for yourself. There’s only one you. You only have one life. You are responsible for making it a happy, joyful life. (#realtalk)
It’s important for your well being but also for the well-being of your law practice.
What if you’re the obstacle?
You work pretty hard. You might not have time to notice you. Please try to turn your discerning lawyerly gaze on yourself for a minute. How are you? Really.
Do you know what behaviors you do when you are burnt out or feeling overwhelmed?
Have you been wanting to do some new marketing, like video marketing, but struggling because ‘who wants to see me on video?’
Your confidence and self-esteem absolutely impact how you run your business, especially around pricing and billing issues.
Invest in higher emotional intelligence
Have you ever given a discount before the client asked? I bet the mental math went something like this…
A) I need to give this person a discount to persuade them to work with me because I’m not enough.
B) I need to give this person a discount to work with me because it wouldn’t be right to charge someone less fortunate than myself much money.
Am I right? Both ideas are faulty thinking that damage your bottom line over the long haul. By the way, I do believe in low bono and there’s a way to do it that doesn’t involve discounts.
Invest in developing your emotional intelligence as a business tool that helps you make better decisions.
There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self – Ben Franklin
It’s time to put as much thought and care into your emotional intelligence as you did your legal education. . Have a look at this video and you’ll be convinced. Leave your comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.