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Let’s talk: the power of conversation

A columnist for Fast Company, Sept. 2006 at 103, bade his farewell with a piece on conversation. Important as healthy conversations are, as crucial as they are to every aspect of managing and working in a law department, genuine conversations face many impediments

Among the obstacles, Dr. Kerry Sulkowicz includes the jungle of formal corporate processes that mostly keep employees from really communicating. He castigates Blackberries and e-mails that substitute for talking. The pace of work, concerns about litigation, and lack of practice cause tongues to be tied.

He suggests three practices that law department managers should make their own. Trust your curiosity. When you talk with someone, ask questions to understand them. On the other hand, know when to keep your mouth shut. The more you know and learn about the other person, the better the conversation. And, third, listen without passing reflexive moral judgment on what you hear or without prematurely charging into action mode. Better conversations, better law departments.

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