Emotional intelligence, as defined by Psychology Today, is ‘one’s ability to manage and identify your own emotions and the emotions of others.’ At first glance, this might not seem relevant to your law firm, but your ability to tap into emotion can have a lasting impact on your client relationships.
To explore emotional intelligence and its impact on legal firms, we sat down with Jaimie B. Field, Esq. legal business development expert and creator of Enlightened Rainmaking. As a passionate proponent for law firm business development, Jaimie understands that lawyers need to be relationship experts to grow their practice. This means emotional intelligence needs to be a skill in every attorneys’ toolbox.
Below, Jaimie shares the value of emotional intelligence for your law firm and how you can maximize its effect on your firm.
The Value of Emotional Intelligence for Lawyers
Jaimie’s definition of emotional intelligence as it relates to law firms gets a little more specific than Psychology Today’s. She defines emotional intelligence as “awareness that our emotions can affect our behavior as well as impact others – both negatively and positively.”
Why is this important for law firms?
According to Jaimie, an attorney with strong emotional intelligence can read others’ emotions and work with them to create a positive experience. In addition, it allows attorneys to control their own emotions in high pressure situations like depositions, trials, negotiations, and more. This also includes managing their reactions to unreasonable or emotional clients.
Emotional intelligence also has significant value in business development. Jaimie explains, “there is an old cliché which says, ‘people do business with people they know, like, and trust.’ Healthy emotional intelligence is important for letting people get to know, like, and trust you.”
As the foundation for relationship building and management, emotional intelligence has boundless opportunities for law firms. But how can you be sure that your attorneys develop their emotional skills? We asked Jaimie about that, too.
How to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence
To improve your emotional intelligence, there are countless resources available to you through websites, blog posts, trainings, and more. For Jaimie, the most valuable resources out there are the ones that help you reign in your reactions.
“Any tool that an attorney can find that helps them control knee-jerk reactions to what happens to them, including meditation, religion, books, websites, or even working with professionals like psychologists and psychiatrists,” Jaimie says. “This will help them understand why they react in certain ways and how to control those reactions when working with clients.”
Jaimie also reminded us that Lou Holtz, an NFL Hall of Fame Football Coach, once said: “Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react.” Your reactions are what your clients will remember, so you need to find tools that help you control them.
Beyond the tools Jaimie suggests, we also believe that empowering your law firm’s CRM with relationship intelligence automation can enhance your firm’s emotional intelligence. With the ability to automatically see actionable client insights, lawyers can use this information to control their responses in a meaningful way that resonates with clients.
How to Use Emotional Intelligence in Today’s Digital World
In today’s digital landscape, it can be challenging to put your emotional intelligence into use. After all, how can you pick up on a client’s emotions through an email? But Jaimie believes attorneys can still tap into their emotional intelligence by putting their clients and their feelings first.
“Many people, lawyers included, do not think before hitting the send or post button – particularly when they are reacting to a story in which they disagree,” Jaimie says. “Whether your reaction is positive or negative, you need to stop and ask yourself: How is this going to affect me personally? How is this going to affect my clients? How will I be perceived by those with whom I want to do business?”
With reactions showing their level of emotional intelligence, it’s important that lawyers remain thoughtful before communicating with clients. This is especially true when lawyers are communicating digitally and they aren’t able to pick up on body language, social cues, or facial expressions.
Start Strengthening Your Client Relationships
Want more ideas on how to create better relationships at your law firm? Learn how a major law firm is using technology to build better business relationships. And for more legal business development advice, check out Jaimie’s blog: Enlightened Rainmaking.