Learning to Listen, Learning to Be Heard

Donna F. Howard, Learning to Listen, Learning to Be Heard, GPSolo Magazine (Apr.-May 2006).
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Ms. Howard argues that “good listening” is achieved through the strengthening of interpersonal skills. She emphasizes that lawyers need to focus on what makes each client unique, no matter how many similar cases he or she may have heard over the course of their career. Good listening, Ms. Howard posits, happens when a person is tuned into his or her own feelings and circumstances. This attunement better allows a lawyer to understand how he or she responds to clients. Ms. Howard also argues that for lawyers in particular, it is important that good listening is supplemented with clear communication, including confirmation that the lawyer’s and client’s understanding of the communication is the same. Clear communication requires a lawyer to pay attention to verbal and nonverbal cues, and helps ensure that the client is being treated with professional care as well as sensitivity.