There have been a myriad of books written and lectures given about “the keys to success.” Chances are you’ve probably read one of these books (or purchased one that’s collecting dust). I can’t begin to tell you how many ads I see for seminars that are going to help me “unlock success” and tell me “the secrets to succeeding.”
Everything you need to succeed is under your nose. Your relationships are the key to success.
Think about how you ended up where you are now professionally and personally. I’d bet money that relationships played a large role. It’s relationships that make it easier to do our jobs, maintain our households and make our social lives a lot more interesting. Everything from politics to sports are driven by relationships.
We all have networks of family, friends and associates in our lives; the key lies in cultivating and maintaining healthy relationships. A healthy relationship is one that is mutually beneficial. As an attorney, your ability to build and maintain relationships are just as important to your practice as the law degree proudly displayed on your wall.
Relationships are an investment. We pour our time, talents, money and emotions into them. How do you determine which relationships are WORTH cultivating?
Consider the following when building and maintaining relationships in law and in life:
W- Is this relationship a “win-win situation”? Win-win relationships are those that are mutually beneficial. Both parties involved are getting something out of being connected to the other person. Whether it’s an attorney-client relationship in which legal services are rendered for a fee or a friendship in which both parties receive support and encouragement. In order for a relationship to be “healthy”, both parties have to gain something. If one party is doing all the giving, the relationship becomes unhealthy.
O- Is there open communication in this relationship? Communication is the key to a successful relationship. We must understand how to effectively communicate with others if we wish to maintain healthy relationships. It’s essential for attorneys to fine tune their communication skills in dealing with clients and colleagues. Open communication allows for both parties to express themselves. Open communication requires active listening and respect for the thoughts and opinions of others.
R-Is there respect in this relationship? Respect is not just a suggestion, but a requirement if you want to maintain healthy relationships. Your level of respect for someone will be evident in your relationship with them. When there is mutual respect between those in a relationship, it sets the tone for the interactions between parties involved. You are more willing to listen to someone who you hold in high regard. There must be mutual respect between you, your clients and colleagues. Where there is a lack of respect, there will be resentment and conflict.
T- Is there trust in this relationship? Trust is the foundation of relationships. A client has to feel as though they can trust you before they place their legal matters in your hands. You have to trust that your client is being forthcoming and truthful in order for you to best handle their legal matter. If a relationship lacks trust there will be constant conflict. A relationship without trust will ultimately fail.
H-Does this relationship make you happy? Relationships are always going to be a part of our lives and we want to pursue the ones that truly make us feel happy and fulfilled. The happiest relationships are those that are built on trust and where both parties feel valued. Being in a “happy relationship” doesn’t mean you always agree, but it means that you respect what you individually bring to the table and recognize that those differences ultimately enhance each other’s lives in some way.
The relationships we build will either help us or hurt us. Evaluate the relationships in your life and the new ones you are considering cultivating. Are they truly WORTH it? Building great relationships and ending unhealthy ones will play a large part in your success both in and out of the courtroom.
Monisha Yowell is the Marketing Coordinator for Lawyers Mutual. Monisha connects Lawyers Mutual with our insureds and the legal community through the use of social media. You can reach Monisha at 800.662.8843 or firstname.lastname@example.org.