Digital Distraction: A Thief of Client Relationships?

Technology has its good points.  Mobile devices and apps give us 24/7 access to information and knowledge.  “As long as we have the Internet, we can be productive,” or so we tell ourselves.  But is it possible that tech is hurting our client relationships and we don’t even know it?

Your smartphone, smartwatch, and tablet are great gadgets – don’t get me wrong.  The 2015 ABA Tech Survey reported that an astonishing 60% of lawyers use iPhones; 40% use iPads.  Used consciously, as a tools, these devices serve us well.  The danger arises when we fail to appreciate that their mere presence may be disturbing to our clients.

Don’t Put Your Phone on the Table During a Client Meeting

In 2012, researchers at Essex University conducted two studies to learn how the presence and use of a mobile phone affected social interactions among strangers.  The participants were paired off and sat in private booths.  In half the cases, a mobile phone was placed nearby.  For the other half, a notebook was left in the same place instead of a mobile phone.  The studies revealed:

  • If a mobile phone is visible during a conversation it causes people to feel less positive towards the person with whom they are chatting.
  • The presence of a mobile phone reduces the level of empathy and understanding in face-to-face conversations.
  • Mobile phones can have negative effects on closeness, connection, and conversation quality.

‘These results demonstrate that the presence of mobile phones can interfere with human relationships, an effect that is most clear when individuals are discussing personally meaningful topics,’ the researchers wrote.  Credit to the Daily Mail.

All Client Meetings are ‘Personally Meaningful’ – Follow These Easy Fixes to Avoid Digital Distraction

The lesson here is obvious and easy: put your devices away!

Keep your phone in your pocket, purse, or briefcase during client meetings.  If you are expecting an important call (from a Judge or hard-to-reach expert) tell the client before the meeting that you may need to take a call.  But don’t use this as an excuse to keep your phone on your desk.

Not expecting a call?  How about setting your iPhone to Airplane Mode, which will automatically silence your Apple watch?

Worried about taking notes without your trusty laptop or tablet?   Don’t.  Turns out note taking is substantially more effective when done by hand, and your legal pad doesn’t need WiFi or an outlet.

Follow the Five Keys to a Successful Client Meeting

  • Avoid distractions (I think we covered this, but there is more to learn)
  • Prepare for your meeting
  • Create an agenda to stay on track
  • Anticipate and prepare for questions
  • Prepare a post-meeting summary and action list for the client

These excellent suggestions come from Tonya Pierce and appear on AgileLaw.  I highly recommend reading the original post.

[All Rights Reserved 2016 Beverly Michaelis]

 

 

 

 

 

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