The Art of Listening: 4 Steps to Transforming Your Communication

Feb 18, 2024By Friso van Deursen, The Legal Coach
Friso van Deursen, The Legal Coach

As senior lawyer, you are accustomed to navigating complex legal landscapes with sharpness, speed, and a strong analytical approach. You’ve honed the skill of constructing arguments and anticipating counters, often finding yourselves in the position of being right. Yet, this very strength can be a double-edged sword. In my role as an online coach, I’ve observed a common scenario: the lawyer’s instinct to respond, rather than to understand, can lead to a diminished influence on their environment, be it within the law firm, among C-level executives, clients, peers, or even family and friends.

In the most positive cases, this may simply result in a lack of meaningful impact. In the worst cases, however, it leads to being disregarded, or even branded as arrogant—negatively affecting both professional and personal relationships.

The quote by Stephen R. Covey, “The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply,” strikes at the heart of this issue. The transition from a lawyer who is merely heard to one who truly listens is transformative. It requires a paradigm shift from a mindset of instant rebuttal to one of empathetic engagement.

To make genuine connections with others, start by listening with the intent to understand their perspectives. This not only improves relationships but also enhances your influence. The power of listening lies in its ability to foster respect and trust. By showing that you value others’ viewpoints, you open doors to collaborative solutions and innovative thinking.

In practice, apply these steps:

- Pause Before Responding: Give yourself a moment to process what’s been said. This small pause can shift the dynamic from reactive to thoughtful.
- Reflect on the Message: Try to understand the underlying concerns or emotions behind the words.
- Ask Clarifying Questions: Show engagement by asking questions that deepen your understanding.
- Respond with Empathy: Acknowledge the speaker’s perspective before presenting your own.

By integrating these listening techniques, senior lawyers can enhance their professional interactions, leading to greater success in negotiations, mediations, and leadership roles. On a personal level, these skills can lead to more fulfilling and harmonious relationships with friends and family.

In essence, by becoming a lawyer who listens to understand, rather than to reply, you can transition from a position of isolated correctness to one of influential connectedness. This shift is key to not just being a successful lawyer, but a successful person in all walks of life.

Ready to transform your communication skills and deepen your influence both professionally and personally? Let’s connect. I’m here to guide you through this pivotal shift. Contact me for a bespoke coaching experience that will elevate your listening skills and enrich your interactions.

Don’t just be heard—be impactful.

Friso coach