Sunday, June 16, 2013

Tips for improving your interpersonal skills

In these times of a very tough job market for new law grads, the so-called "soft skills" of interpersonal relations are at least as important as traditional legal skills.  In this column from the blog attorney@work, Loyola-Chicago Adjunct Professor of legal skills Desiree Moore provides a summary of the key interpersonal skills law students and recent grads should hone for success on the job:

  • Be reasonable and even-tempered at all times. Do not display extreme emotions, and do not take frustrations out on anyone (this includes your administrative assistant—the best way to get in trouble as a new lawyer is to treat staff in a disrespectful manner).
  • Be enthusiastic. Express enthusiasm at the prospect of working on any project assigned to you.
  • Get to know your colleagues. Ask them about their work and their interests.
  • Be humble. You are at the bottom of the food chain. Your likability, and not your credentials (even if impressive), is going to carry the day.
  • Steer clear of office gossip or any office dynamics with which you are not comfortable. Use discretion, and keep your personal drama out of the workplace.
  • Do not take things personally. You are there to do a job. Period. Do not view minor exchanges or critiques of your work as personal affronts. Criticism in particular is expected, and you should use it to improve your skills.
  • Demonstrate that you are a reliable person. Act responsibly and responsively. Always do what you say you are going to do when you say you are going to do it; even if you have promised to do something that is ultimately insignificant, you will build credibility by consistently doing exactly what you say you are going to do. Be on time; better yet, be early—for everything. Do your work quickly, efficiently, and with purpose. Where appropriate, keep your supervising attorney apprised of your progress.
  • Work hard. Early in your career, demonstrate that you are willing to put in long hours and late nights. Volunteer to take over or help out on projects and cases wherever you might be needed. Figure out how to get work done quickly, efficiently, and well. Create strategies for limiting distractions throughout the day. Where necessary to get work done, turn your email alerts off and make conversations with people in the office short. In other words, show that you mean business most of the time.

Continue reading here.


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