We’re all taking advantage of it; in fact many of us say we couldn’t live without it. We use technology throughout the day to help us stay in touch and communicate. We can text, e-mail, Facebook and blog (like I’m doing right now.) from just about any place with our smartphones and laptops. When it comes to handling a busy practice, the efficiency and convince this can create are indisputable. However, it has changed our work pace and our work place and perhaps not always for the better. Are you addicted to checking your e-mail at all hours of the day and night? Can you unplug when on vacation or a family outing? And what about the pace….do you feel compelled to respond right away even though you may have been working on another task or when you may not have all the information you need. And while we may be communicating are we really conversing?
Many experts are beginning to ask this question and to study the impact todays communication methods may have on our workplace and our relationships (business or otherwise). Pause for a minute (if you’re not responding to an e-mail or text while reading this) and consider the definition of the words to “converse” and to “communicate.” To “converse” means to hold a conversation, to talk. To “communicate” means transmitting, a giving or receiving of information, messages, or signals. It is the method by which we converse, but it should not be a replacement for conversing with our clients and family and others important to our life and well being.
Historically, the practice of law has always involved a relationship with the client that included listening to and talking to the client. There’s a reason lawyers were often referred to as “counselors” (and maybe the fact that we don’t use that term as much today speaks volumes.) An essential element of the lawyer-client relationship is engaging in conversation with the client; listening and talking to the client and counseling them regarding their options. And what about our other interactions in the work environment with our colleagues, staff, and opposing counsel. Do we engage in conversation, a give and take of ideas and information that enhances our working relationships; or do we isolate ourselves by using technology to text or e-mail the information? Don’t get me wrong, technology can bring valuable time and documenting efficiencies to our work day, but are we using it to replace conversing with clients and staff in the work environment? And how does this impact the quality of our career and our working relationships? As the author of an op-ed piece in the Sunday “New York Times” said “We’ve become accustomed to a new way of being ‘alone together.’” Take a look at Sherry Turkles article “The Flight From Conversation” from “The New York Times” and share your comments with us.
Wendy Inge, Esq. is the Virginia Risk Manager for ALPS. She is available to answer risk management questions at no charge for ALPS insureds and all members of the VSB. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1- 800- 367-2577.