Every profession can carry with it some type of stereotype. When it comes to working with attorneys, I have often heard that due to the nature of their work, attorneys are known for forgetting the rules of etiquette. Some examples may include:
- rude language
- no respect of others time
- coming off as being unfriendly
Attorneys have to be confident, aggressive and competitive in order to meet the demands of their job and to get ahead in their careers. But as I have stated over and over again, etiquette can open more doors more effectively than education. If you are known more for how you have rubbed someone the wrong way, chances are you it will take you a much longer time to be that “star”.
I am not saying that attorneys should lose their competitive nature. That passion and aggressiveness is needed in the courtroom to command a victory. However, it is when you leave the courtroom and how you treat your colleagues and other staff members is what we are talking about today.
Here are some suggestions for treating contacts with respect and dignity amid the often chaotic pace of today’s business environment:
- Put effort into being a team player. You may be the only one standing up in court. But you have people in the office who help you gather information, set up meetings, etc. Be polite, courteous and thankful to those that help you shine.
- When sending emails check your grammar and tone. You do not want your words to be misinterpreted. Take time to organize your thoughts before you type and hit send.
- Voicemails should also be clear and respectful.
- Punctuality is essential. Show up for appointments on time for scheduled appointments with clients and staff. It sends a signal to others that they are considered important. When a professional is habitually late to events he or she has committed to attend, it sends a negative feeling and lack of trust.
- When trying to build a professional network, ask colleagues if it is ok to “name drop” before you decide to use them as a way to open a door to a potential connection.
- Try not to come on too strong when meeting someone for the first time. You can be confident and not overly aggressive and achieve the same level of respect from that person.
- When a client or colleague files in from another city, or country, meet them at the airport and drive them to the office yourself. It makes a great first impression.
- When scheduling a dinner or luncheon meeting the choice should be a matter of courtesy and consideration. Pick a restaurant that reflects the business level of the people you are meeting. Never ask your guest where they would like to go. It is up to you to learn as much as possible about your client.
- Eliminate the phrase “No problem” from your vocabulary. Yes, as an attorney you are hired to solve a problem. Simply say powerful phrases such as “You’re welcome” or perhaps “My pleasure?” A great way to become charming, persuasive and more memorable.
- The person who is physically present with you takes precedence over a cell phone call.