Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

9 Traits That Make Lawyers Unlikeable

number 9Boasting about the important people you know and all the valuable connections you have is a great way to turn off prospective clients.

So is checking your phone messages during an interview.

These actions are all but guaranteed to make you unlikeable. And if clients don’t like you, they won’t hire you.

The good news is that while you can’t force clients to like you, what you can do is minimize conduct – like name-dropping and being rude– that will have the opposite effect.

“Too many people succumb to the mistaken belief that being likable comes from natural, unteachable traits that belong only to a lucky few—the good looking, the fiercely social, and the incredibly talented,” writes Travis Bradberry in Forbes. “It’s easy to fall prey to this misconception. In reality, being likable is under your control.”

Consider this UCLA study, in which subjects were given hypothetical descriptions of different people and asked which ones they liked or didn’t like. It turns out the qualities they found most appealing were not innate characteristics like intelligence or physical attractiveness. Instead, they chose qualities like sincerity, listening skills and empathy – all of which can be improved through awareness and practice.

It Pays to Be Popular

Here are nine behaviors that will make you unlikeable – and should therefore be avoided:

  1. Sharing too much, too soon. We’ve all been there. We sit down with someone we’ve just met, and before you can say “too much information” they’re spilling their guts on intensely personal topics. Awkward, sure, but also a turn-off. “Over-sharing comes across as self-obsessed and insensitive to the balance of the conversation,” writes Bradberry. “Likeable people let the other person guide them as to when it’s the right time for them to open up.”
  2. Having preconceived opinions. Clients are drawn to lawyers who are open-minded. They don’t necessarily need you to approve of what they did or condone their behavior. They just want you to listen to their side of the story before passing judgment.
  3. Name-dropping. It makes you appear insecure, and it cheapens what you have to offer.
  4. Whipping out your phone. “Nothing turns someone off like a mid-conversation text message or even a quick glance at your phone. When you commit to a conversation, focus all of your energy on the conversation.”
  5. Gossiping. When they leave your office, they will wonder what you are saying about them behind their back.
  6. Not asking questions. Sometimes we are so focused on what we want to say next that we’re not fully listening to what the other person is saying. Come into the interview with a list of questions. The focus of the inquiry should be on the client, not your brilliant insights.
  7. Angry emotional outbursts. “Exploding at anyone, regardless of how much they might ‘deserve it,’ turns a huge amount of negative attention your way. You’ll be labeled as unstable, unapproachable and intimidating. Controlling your emotions keeps you in the driver’s seat.”
  8. Being too serious. This can be a tricky balance. Clients want their case to be taken seriously. But they also appreciate a little perspective – and even a sense of humor.
  9. Bragging. This falls in the same category as name-calling. Humble-bragging – where you tout your awesomeness behind a mask of phony self-deprecation – is just as annoying.

What turn-offs would you add to this list?

Source: Forbes

About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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