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Communicating effectively in the “Tower of Babble”

I've written many times about the problems with e-mail communication. It has been an essential tool in the practice of law for almost two decades now and even as social media continues to grow in importance, it is still the dominant form of business communication. But there remain many issues with e-mail use.

One of the fundamental problems is that we now have more communication choices than ever. Most importantly, each of us prefers to receive information in a different way and knowing someone's age doesn't necessarily tell you what that is (although as the father of three teenagers, I can see that we are creating an entire generation of individuals who do not like to use the telephone).

With the explosion of communication choice, it is more important than ever to think critically about the best ways to communicate with clients.

Regardless of what your own personal preferences are, it is essential to remember that effective communication is NOT about you. Rather, consider how your clients prefer to receive particular kinds of information.  

If you have a client who sends a lot of e-mail with the entire message in the subject line, that is a good clue that terse wins the day with this individual. On the other hand, there are still some clients who prefer the telephone while others might prefer e-mail messages with attachments.  

If it isn't obvious what your clients prefer, ask them. If you do, you will have much happier clients and your referrals will grow.

In my next column (on March 14), I will write about some ways that you can increase the likelihood that your referral network will actually make referrals.

Tip courtesy of Stephen Seckler, president, Seckler Legal Consulting and Coaching.

Published February 28, 2013

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