Managing Self Monday Morning Practice

Monday Morning Practice – Focus on listening

Written by Allison Wolf

Talk, talk, talk.

Elevator speeches.

Presentation skills.

In our law firm cultures we place a great deal of emphasis on our verbal communication skills ranging from learning to speak up at meetings, developing our presentation abilities, and polishing our elevator speeches.  And yes, these are important skills, and even more important is how well we listen.

Powerful listening builds rapport faster than any other method.  It is an established truth that the person who is enjoying the conversation the most is the one doing most of the talking.

Listening ensures we are learning everything we need to from our clients.

Listening helps to resolve conflicts.

Listening tells the people we are in dialogue with that they matter, and that their viewpoint is valued.

Listening helps us to delegate more effectively.

In our personal lives, giving the gift our our complete attention is one of the best ways to express our love to our friends and family.

Listening and questioning go hand in hand. Curiosity-led questions open up dialogue. They help to stimulate deeper thinking.  They are the key to effective leadership.

This week, focus your attention on developing your listening abilities with this simple self-observation practice:

Stop at the end of the day – and ask yourself the following questions. Please do this for the next seven days.

  1. When did I listen attentively? How was this received by the person I was listening to?
  2. How did I demonstrate active listening – or in other words, how did I communicate that I was listening?

Active Listening Tips:

In order to let people know that you are actively attending to their words try out the following active listening cues:

  • Periodically offer non-verbal comments such as nodding or mmm
  • Make very short phrases such as “tell me more” “yes, I see”
  • Ask questions such as “what is your thinking on that? “How did that come about? “What led you to that conclusion?”
  • Mirror what you have heard: “What I hear you saying is…” “What I understand is…”

“Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute understanding from people of ill will.” – Martin Luther King, Jr

About the author

Allison Wolf

I am the founder of AWAL and one of the most senior coaches for lawyers in North America. I have helped countless clients over the past fifteen years, develop thriving legal practices and before that served as director of marketing for award-winning law firms. My specialty is uncovering the thinking traps and gaps holding clients back and helping them acquire the mindsets, skills, and habits for growing successful and rewarding legal careers. After a career in legal marketing and business development with law firms in Beijing, New York, and Vancouver, I was trained as a coach in 2004 at Royal Roads University and now coach clients from across North America. You can reach me at or learn more about my coaching practice from the coaching section of the Attorney With A Life Website.

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