We lawyers are paid to talk, and talk we do. We talk too much. We never learn anything by talking, but we are driven to it.
I saw this at a closing I attended with my wife. The closing attorney talked the whole time, interrupted my wife and everyone else in the room, and insisted on his voice being the only one heard. It made my wife mad, and she felt that he refused to answer her questions. As a lawyer, I knew he was trying to explain the process; still, his inability to listen and understand the concerns of everyone in the room irritated me, too. He knew what he was doing and was trying to educate us, but because he didn’t listen (or at least appear to) better, he did poorly.
The hardest skill to learn is listening. When I went to the FBI course on Crisis/Hostage Negotiations, they taught me not just what to say, but what to hear. Jury selection in a trial is not just asking the right questions, but actually listening to and expanding upon the answers you get. Good lawyering requires good listening at all levels, and it is the hardest thing for us lawyers to remember, frequently because we are so unused to doing it!
Writing this column today helped me to remember that. Every lawyer (including me) has done exactly what this competent real estate attorney did. I am even embarassed to recall all the talking I did today without actively listening to what others said. I guess the lesson of this week’s blog is actively listening to everyone in all we do (lawyering or not) will make us do a better job, or at least be perceived as such. After all, isn’t how people perceive you almost as important as how you really are?
If you or a loved one are seriously injured in an accident caused by someone else and need someone to listen, call Randy Piedrahita at the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, personal injury law firm of Dué, Guidry, Piedrahita & Andrews.