Active listening has a universal theme, such as the role of undivided attention. But much of listening is also context-specific. There is a difference when it comes to listening in a meeting versus a cross-examination.
It is advisable for lawyers to use their active listening skills to ensure success. There are five distinct listening contexts that a lawyer can face:
- First, when speaking with a potential or existing client.
- Second, in a witness examination. Effective advocacy requires full attention, to carefully listen and respond to what the witness is saying.
- Third, when communicating in court.
- Fourth, when communicating with juries. Look for nonverbal communication, and their predispositions and beliefs.
- Fifth, during mediation, which is an important tool for conflict resolution.
The common belief is that listening skills are innate; an instinct and something we are all capable of. While there is some truth behind that, active listening is the key to success. Active listening is a complex process that is a sought-after ability that must be knowingly developed and practiced. It has a set of precise, repeatable, calculable behaviours that are required to be successful. Communication is a central aspect in the legal field. With that said, successful active listening is a very powerful tool. Mastering active listening is essential for anyone in the legal field to negotiate more successfully, to be able to respond to questions more swiftly, connect more wholly with clients and largely improve relations and effectiveness in various aspects of legal practice.
Below are a few tips for practicing active listening:
- Make Eye Contact: Eye contact is a form of body language; it creates a bond between the parties involved in the conversation generating a deeper and profound connection.
- Paraphrase: Develop the practice of reading your documents out loud beforehand as this might clarify the message and leaves a greater impact on the individual being heard.
- Avoid Interruption: Allow individuals to complete their thoughts. Do not prepare a reply; rather be in the moment and fully focus on what that person is trying to communicate.
- Observe Nonverbal Behaviour: Be able to pick up on hidden meanings. Some examples include: facial expressions, tone of voice, body language, and appearance.
- Asking Questions: Engaging in the conversation clarifies what was said and makes the individual feel heard.
At On The Record Court Reporting, we offer a very friendly, safe, and quiet space that exemplifies the ideal environment in which to conduct a successful meeting. Whether it is a meeting or mediation, we are here to help make it as stress-free as possible with modern boardrooms, technology, and staff on hand. If you are in need of a boardroom, please visit our website to book one today, or use the panel on the right to select a room. We also have optional catering available upon request.