Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Calming an Angry Client—or Student

Attorney at Work offers a method for dealing with an angry client. It should work just as well for the angry student:

First, for the first 90 seconds, ignore the client’s words. I know, I know, words are important. Trust me. Ignore the words for the first 90 seconds. If you listen to the words with your usual lawyer ears, you might get triggered and emotional. You might get pissed off. You might become impatient or frustrated. And if any of those things happen to you, you are likely to say the worst thing possible to your client. So, ignore the words.

Second, guess at the emotions the client might be experiencing in that moment. This is a little tricky because we have been trained to be dispassionate and unemotional concerning client problems. Use your own experience and common sense to guess at what the emotional experience of the moment is.

Third, state back the client’s emotional experience with a very short, direct “you” statement, such as “you are angry.” Do not ask a question like “are you angry?” And, do not use an “I” statement, such as “what I hear you saying is that you are angry.” Keep the statement direct and focused on the client.

You can read more here.


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