Have you ever sent an email you wish you hadn’t? The consequences can sometimes be catastrophic. One strategy for dealing with challenging or frustrating encounters is to write down everything you would like to say, and then not send the message. This allows you to step back and vent. More importantly, it allows you time to think about what you would like to say, rather than reacting quickly and emotionally. Often this exercise helps inform one’s actual response.
In the digital age, we are bombarded with constant electronic communications, and there is an increasing expectation that we will respond immediately. However, it’s vital to the success of every attorney and an important aspect of the job to be thoughtful, circumspect and exacting in our communications.
Although it is commendable that conscientious attorneys want to:
It is important to resist the urge to immediately clear one’s inbox by providing rapid fire responses to questions.
Becoming a solo alleviated some of the pressure I faced when I practiced in Big Law, where the objective is to produce as much work as possible, as quickly as possible. For me, one of the biggest benefits of becoming a solo is simply having more time to think. I leverage that time to enhance my performance and the quality of my communications with clients and others.
If you don’t give “knee-jerk” responses and resist the desire to respond quickly with a simple “yes” or “no” answer, the passage of time allows for some good-faith consideration and thought. Given a reasonable amount of time to think, you often realize that a client’s question raises other questions, and their comments can highlight certain inconsistencies and can have an impact on other open issues. On the flip side, I sometimes find that when I pause and count to ten before responding, I am able to answer some of my own questions and narrow the open issues. As noted in my prior blog (Let’s Go Work for Facebook!), it is uniquely the attorney’s responsibility to ensure internal consistency within legal documents.
Having more time to think enables me to suggest innovative ways and creative solutions to solve clients’ problems rather than relying on standard, go-to ways or recommending that my client refuse to negotiate a particularly challenging point.
So, slow it down, take a breath (FEAR! — How To Face It Head-On), and take the time to think BEFORE you hit send!