The term “soft skills” is increasingly popular to describe people skills. Soft skills are the interpersonal skills, behaviors, and personality traits we use to interact with others. They include innate behaviors such as communication, humility, and dependability that play an important role in how we interact and engage with clients. Clients, whether individuals or an organization, are people, and ensuring your skills reflect your ability to interact with people at the highest level will help with client engagement. Your clients want to trust you and the advice you provide so they can make the best decision possible. The ability to be an effective communicator while remaining humble and recognizing your role as an advisor and advocate will help you stand out from others as you continue to grow professionally.
We all know that communication is a huge part of everyday life, but its reach regarding client engagement is enormous. Effectively communicating verbally and in writing can make or break your client’s trust and reliance on your advice. Communicate in a way that isn’t in the form of legalese and in the way that your client has requested. Additionally, ensure that your writing is free of grammatical errors. Verbally remain polite and sincere. Remember that communication is not only about how you are speaking or writing but what you are conveying. Ensure you provide realistic outcomes and expectations so that your client is always well-informed.
This skill will allow you to see your client’s situation as if you were experiencing it yourself. It involves acting with self-awareness from a state of generosity rather than from a place of arrogance. Enhancing your humility skills will make you a better listener and more compassionate to your client’s needs. Clients most often want to know that they have a lawyer who is on their side. Work on humility in client engagement by remembering that our clients come first and that our role as lawyers is to serve them in the best way possible.
Professional Development Action Item
Like any skill, soft skills can be nurtured and improved upon with practice. Add a recurring event to your calendar (once per month or once per quarter) to take the time to self-reflect on your active listening and communication skills. Taking the time to nurture and develop your soft skills will help you stand out in your legal career.