It’s easy to see how advancements in technology have streamlined communication for all businesses in the 21st century. From smartphones and social media to intranets and email, contacting others has never been easier. However, while technology has made communication more convenient, face-to-face interaction still has a prominent place at your law firm. There will always be situations and circumstances that warrant an in-person conversation as opposed to the standard message or email. Here are five benefits of face-to-face interaction and why they are important in your firm’s daily communication.
Build Professional Relationships
Networking has become a frequently used buzz word in recent years. We’ve all heard the advice that building relationships with other professionals is essential for career growth. Despite the presence of social networking sites like LinkedIn, there’s no better way to foster professional relationships than old-fashioned face-to-face interaction. Remember that strong relationships help build strong reputations and a strong reputation makes others more inclined to work with you for mutual growth.
If you get an email or call from a salesperson you do not know, chances are you won’t be receptive to the offer and may even ignore it altogether. An in-person sales pitch is harder to discount because it feels more authentic and personal. Networking is no different. Of course, you can still form a connection with a client or potential client online, but meeting someone and having a conversation is much more likely to help build a true professional relationship. There’s no substitute for a handshake, and a face-to-face interaction will allow you to showcase your personality and more easily read another’s reaction and body language.
Encourage Employee Engagement and Collaboration
Face-to-face interaction isn’t just for developing relationships outside of your law firm. It can also be beneficial for improving internal communication and encouraging collaboration from everyone on your team. Business will no doubt improve when all of your lawyers are sharing ideas and working together. Our agency utilizes brainstorming sessions to generate plans for both our clients and ourselves. We get together in one room and discuss the various ideas that each of us has for the objective at hand. Without fail, talking about these plans in person leads to a better understanding of what we’re trying to accomplish and concrete solutions to get it done.
Sometimes, all it takes is hearing another person share their thoughts to get those creative juices flowing, build on it and establish a plan to put into action. Trying to develop these plans alone or even through the use of technology can be difficult. Encourage in-person teamwork or brainstorming sessions at your law firm and watch employee engagement and collaboration soar.
Establish Clear and Concise Communication
According to DMR, the average office worker receives 121 emails each day. When sorting through that many messages, it’s safe to assume at least a handful of them could be misconstrued by the recipient. Enter face-to-face interaction. When a conversation is had in-person, there’s less opportunity for a message to be misunderstood. Through the interpretation of body language and tone of voice, we are much more likely to understand intent and remain on the same page than we are through the use of email or other electronic messaging.
This can also be effective for constructive criticism. We can all remember a time in school when a teacher handed us a test or assignment that was covered in red marks. Without an explanation, this can be very discouraging and lead to increased frustration and potentially confusion when working on future projects. It’s no different for your law firm. Rather than just listing out your corrections in a message to an attorney or other team member, sit down with them and talk through your feedback. Having an open discussion about what you are looking for will lead to a better understanding on their part without discouraging them. Chances are you’ll see more positive results on the next assignment.
Effective Use of Time and Resources
For all of its convenience, technology still has its issues. A quick glance at your email inbox and you’ll likely find a thread of multiple messages between you and a client, particularly when it comes to scheduling or establishing plans. Oftentimes, a simple face-to-face interaction could have accomplished this goal in a fraction of the time. An in-person conversation allows you to get to the point quickly and establish plans, possibly even within just a few moments.
Consider this practice the next time you need to collaborate with a fellow attorney or even with someone outside of your law firm. As we’ve already established, the sheer number of emails that the average person is receiving daily increases the likelihood that your message will be overlooked or potentially ignored. Sitting down with the recipient instead will accomplish your goal more quickly, saving time and energy for both parties.
Appropriate Delivery of Personal Messages
Regardless of the size of a law firm, everyone will be faced with situations that require delivering bad news to someone. From reprimanding a team member to severing a legal partnership, there are countless examples of these situations. While nobody likes to be the one delivering this news, it warrants a face-to-face interaction rather than a message. In the professional world, the recipient of bad news often deserves to hear it with grace and compassion. As hard as it may seem, it’s essential that you share bad news within a face-to-face interaction to maintain professionalism at your law firm.
This practice should also be utilized when delivering good news. A promotion, raise or even just positive reinforcement for a job well done will prevail with a face-to-face interaction. Let’s use Facebook and birthdays as an example. Sure, we all feel good when someone writes on our wall or sends us a message to wish us a happy birthday, but hearing it in person feels more authentic and generates a more positive response. Good news in law firms works the same way. The next time you want to congratulate someone at your office, do it in person and you’ll guarantee the recipient will experience a genuine reaction. We all love a good pat on the back.