Simulated combat and sanctioned violence! Do I have your attention yet? Great!
Combat sports such as wrestling, boxing, or mixed martial arts require a lot of give and take. In some ways, it’s like a dance between two people who are carefully considering their timing, distance management, and agility in every move made. If football is a game of inches, then MMA is a game of millimeters.
Why do I bring this up? Believe it or not, the trading of blows between two combatants is a great metaphor for the process of communication, especially between an attorney and client. Don’t believe me? Then read on!
Read and Game plan
Communication is a constant process of encoding and decoding, both sending and receiving messages and feedback. Just as you read an opponent to anticipate their next move, you must read your client. What type of case is this? Why are they seeking my expertise? What kind of attention will this client require? Does this client prefer a Mike Tyson in the courtroom or an Evander Holyfield? You read the client as you would your opponent in the ring, and adapt accordingly.
Switch it Up
MMA, as the name suggests, mixes the martial arts. When you have a variety of ancient and modern disciplines at your disposal, the options of techniques are endless. But different techniques exist for different reasons. For example, to kick in Muay Thai is very different compared to a kick in Kickboxing or Kempo.
These variations of the same action can be used for different reasons, depending what the situation calls for. Communication should be tailor-made for your audience, just as a kick is tailor made for the situation. A greeting is still a greeting; just as a kick is still a kick. But your audience may prefer a quieter, more reserved approach rather than an enthusiastic and warmer one. You use whatever communication techniques you have to fit the circumstance in order to get the best results. One size certainly does not fit all.
Does the best boxer throw a singular punch then wait for their opponent to come to them? Does the best grappler attempt a single submission then wait for the response from their counterpart? Of course not! Boxers throw combinations. Grapplers attempt submissions and set traps. Wrestlers chain-wrestle in succession in order to get their opponent’s back. If there’s a strong case in your sights, you need to follow-up with the claimant and pursue it. Once you receive a lead, it’s best to follow-up with the claimant as soon as possible – there’s no time to waste!
Frequent follow-ups are essential to turning that lead into a case, so be sure to pursue that lead earnestly and consistently. In fact, it may be the perfect excuse to get that legal intern you always wanted.
Sure, you’re not actually in the ring or on the mat trying to fight an opponent. But you certainly are fighting to get quality leads and valuable references from your clients. Keep your chin down and march forward: strategize with your client, use your variety of techniques to keep them satisfied, and to stay on top of leads with frequent follow-ups. Remember these comparisons when communicating with your clients and at the end of the day you just may get your hand raised.