Are You a Bad Communicator or is the Other Person a Bad Listener? Or Both?

Not everyone absorbs information the same way and some of us are better at it than others. You may need to adjust your communication style to best fit how your clients learn and process information. Different people have different learning styles and it doesn’t help that your clients are involved in the stress of litigating a case.

You may become frustrated with someone who doesn’t appear to learn or understand what you’re saying. The other person may also be frustrated because you’re perceived as someone who poorly communicates. Simply repeating yourself may just increase the level of frustration. The person may be one of a few you’ve had this problem with, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not the problem.

You may need to adjust your message or how it’s being communicated reports The Muse. The other person may have hearing problems or simply receive information better in a format that you’re not using. By one estimate as many as 15% to 20% of the population is learning disabled in some way, according to the National Institutes of Health. Without being aware of it the person you’re trying to communicate with may be one of them. If you think someone with a learning disability is easy to spot, Einstein and Leonardo de Vinci had a learning disability (dyslexia).

Changing how you communicate might take some work and creativity on your part but it’s worth it if you need to get the message across. Here are some suggestions,

  • Ask for feedback. If things aren’t getting through to the other person, ask what you can do differently or better to help the person understand. Are you talking like you’re lecturing a law school class to a person who didn’t graduate high school? Are you not scheduling enough time for the person and rushing through things? Maybe the person’s grasp of the English language isn’t as good as you thought. The person may have hearing difficulties. You may not know what the problem is until you ask.
  • If you’re talking like you’re giving a lecture you may be tuned out. Instead make it a conversation. Ask specific, open-ended questions that require critical thinking. If the person is lost you may be able to narrow down what the problem is, clarify what’s confusing the person and move on.
  • Try a different medium. If conversations aren’t working, try communicating in writing or vice versa. If something is written it gives the person the chance to go over the information multiple times, at his or her own pace, in the comfort of their home, not in what may be seen as a stressful place like a law firm office.

The situation may frustrate you but it also might make you a better communicator overall and there are few skills as important as communication when practicing law. If you’re an attorney who litigates jury trials or you work with a large number of clients this may make you better appreciate the fact you may need to take different approaches to communicating to people who may process information in different ways.