Key #2: Clear Consistent Communication
I know most attorneys discuss the legal process and explain everything from net worth statement and preliminary conference to the varied possibilities of settling. What seems less clear to most attorneys is that 90% of what you say is not absorbed. During that first meeting, your new client is on emotional overload. They WANT to hear you and TRY to understand, but the emotional fog many of them are in do not allow for clear reception. I always suggest they bring a support person who can take notes and help them to remember all their questions.
Even with support, most of what is covered is confusing, sounds like a different language and does not stick. My experience is that you cannot go over the basics enough. Asking clients to mirror back what you said in terms of process, strategy, possibility is vital. More often than not, they did not hear what you said but rather their fear based interpretation of it.
Recently I was working with a divorcing dad who is a high net earner. His attorney discussed what might happen…worst case scenario and suggested that some of what he wanted, such as to be the custodial parent, was a long shot. What our client heard was that he was screwed and there was no hope. This particular client is more grounded in reason and logic than emotional upset than many and still, he heard something different than what was said to him.
Another attorney said, “she needs to tell me when she doesn’t understand or what she needs.” The problem is, often the client cannot communicate what they need. You, the attorney may not seem safe (their perspective, not necessarily reality) and so they tumble in their fear and mistrust, people get defensive or curt and communication becomes more convoluted.
A while back I had a client that called me in a panic stating how her attorney said they were going to court!! The attorney had little patience for her reluctance and unwillingness to ‘cooperate’. When we dug a little deeper, it became clear that ‘going to court’ elicited images of being taken away in handcuffs. Sounds crazy, right? Fear distorts our reality and many of your clients live and communicate in a fear-based reality. We help them see the distortion, process the emotions and show up more calm and able to collaborate with you.
Encourage Your Clients To Get Support
You can represent your clients better by helping them to receive the support they need to partner with you in an effective and efficient way! Divorce coaching has had an immensely valuable and profound impact for both divorce client and attorney.
Divorce coaching is very different from therapy. It is strategic, it is an interactive conversation where the client’s perspectives are examined, challenged and adjusted to better serve them. It is more about thoughts than feelings and very specifically about what they are facing right here and now.
We help clients notice their thoughts and perspectives. We help them challenge limiting belief and assumptions that cause fear and chaos and support them in finding their way to clarity and calm. We help them assess if their attorney is really too aggressive or if they are being well represented. We encourage them to raise their questions and concerns in a productive manner and most importantly, with us as a sounding board, clients become productive partners working with rather than against their attorneys in creating the best possible settlement for all involved.
Our clients tend to appreciate their attorneys, acknowledge all they have done and refer them to friends and family looking for sound representation.
One hour spent sharing their fears, anger and emotional strife with you can equal 2, 3 or more hours working with a divorce coach and bring them (and you) significantly more value.