It is a part of the job for us, conflict. In many ways, it is second nature. It is a struggle for many of our clients to understand when they start and maneuver through their case with us. We deal with various forms of conflict on a regular basis; it’s negotiating a settlement, arguing for our client in court, going toe to toe with opposing counsel in a brief or in a hearing. What can be challenging for a lawyer or even our clients is unnecessary conflict. Sometimes our clients will see unnecessary conflict at mediation or even at trial. It is important for not only us but also our clients to remember is to constantly communicate with us as they observe what they might observe as unnecessary conflict but for us is necessary conflict as we step up to argue for our client in various situations. As lawyers, we have to assess the defendant, the defendant’s lawyer, the judge, a mediator, various parties that may play a part in our client’s case and figure out how to communicate with them and keep the conflict as beneficial to our client as possible.
Here are some of the Communication Styles we see on a daily basis, and based on these styles, we have to negotiate differently to be effective for our clients. It is good for our clients to be able to assess these styles too. The Florida Justice Association recently posted an article on communicators and we at Brannon & Brannon thought it would beneficial for our clients to read.
1. The Assertive Style: This communication style is founded in confidence; assertive communicators are able to clearly express themselves without being overbearing or overly submissive. Assertive communication is the most effective style as well as the healthiest.
2. The Aggressive Style: Aggressive communicators value their needs above others; people often miss the message because they are turned off by the delivery.
3. The Passive Aggressive Style: These communicators often leave people feeling confused or misdirected because while they may seem supportive, they are subtly undermining or acting out their aggression behind the scenes.
4. The Submissive Style: People who communicate with a submissive style put others needs above theirs to avoid conflict, but may end up deeply resentful. This is a highly ineffective form of communication in many circumstances.
5. The Manipulative Style: This communication style is destructive. Manipulative communicators often have their own agenda and control situations to achieve it, sometimes without the other person knowing.
Good communication skills require a high level of self-awareness. Once you understand your own communication style, you’ll be able to practice more assertive communication.