In the holiday season, listening to family and friends can be a perfect gift. It doesn’t cost money and it’s deeply meaningful for the recipient. For the giver, sitting down with a cup of coffee and a friend can be a respite from the hectic, distracted, too-many-things-to-do feeling that ushers in the season.
But making the listening happen, which requires cutting through that hecticness and the digital clutter of life (even on Thanksgiving), is hard. For lawyers, one somewhat natural method to help ourselves give the gift of listening is by asking questions. For that, I recommend the TED website’s list of “10 Questions to Ask Your Family Around the Table.”
Questions like “What was the hardest moment of your life?” are pretty big questions. And that actually makes them really good for lawyers, almost 60 percent of whom are introverts. Writing about lawyer introverts in The Legal Balance, Beth Buelow defined an introvert as “a person who gains energy from solitude and drains energy during social interaction.” Introverts tend to enjoy deeper one-on-one conversations (as opposed to superficial group chit-chat) which is why TED’s 10 Questions are so helpful. In her article on lawyer-introverts, Buelow talked about networking but might as well have been describing holiday conversations with family:
[S]how up with your natural curiosity, sense of humor and ability to listen. We all want to be seen and heard, and you’re giving a tremendous gift to a prospect or colleague [LLL: or relative or friend] when you really listen and give her your undivided attention.
Happy holidays to Listen Like a Lawyer’s readers. May each of you give and receive the gift of listening this holiday season.