NBH008: Saving Time by Transforming Conflict

Today I'm going to teach you how to save time, in an unconventional way. Instead of trying to do things faster, how about looking at things differently? This is episode 8 of this podcast; and if you've been listening to the other episodes, you know that I talk about changing how we think about time. As a lawyer and a curious person, I'm very interested in conflict. Now, I know many lawyers who who actually don't like conflict. I have lots of lawyer friends who are like, “I don't like conflict”. And so I'm not saying as a lawyer, you like conflicts.

However, as lawyers, we're almost always in the middle of conflict. It's part of the job. Usually there's a disagreement or misunderstanding between two people, two entities, and we're here to help resolve it and find some kind of successful outcome, hopefully for everyone. We might fight it out through litigation; we might mediate it through agreement. And if we're lucky, we might be the ones preventing conflict before it happens, by putting safeguards in place. Being a lawyer is so multi-dimensional; and I get so excited when I think about what we do, seriously.

But, back to conflict. Unfortunately, the primary conflict for which your client came to you is not the problem; it is not the thing taking your time away because that is actually what you're supposed to be doing. Your time is taken by: administrative inefficiencies, miscommunication, red tape, and systemic inadequacies - big things and also little things. And so these can manifest as conflicts to your goal of swiftly resolving a case. You get a case and you're like, “cool, this is what I need to do.” You're smart; you're great lawyer. And then all these things come in the way. That is what causes a lot of pain. I've seen it; I've experienced it.

You don't want them there. Regardless, they're there. What if you could transform that conflict into something productive? What if the parts of your job that suck your time and energy could be used to create something better? That’s kind of strange, right? I'll say that again. What if the parts of your job that suck your time and energy could be used to create something better? Conflict is a natural part of life. Everything is moving and changing; it’s dynamic and conflict is just there. Conflict is energy that's just not fitting right at the moment. There's some discrepancy.

And so if we lawyers can transform that conflict energy into something useful, imagine how that model could help our clients. That's just a by-product. So when there's a conflict feeling in your law firm, maybe its difficulty with opposing counsel or with a client, how about saving time by looking at it from a different perspective? For example, how about instead of pushing back directly on that conflict, which is definitely a time and energy drain (all that pushing), we take a moment to respond differently?

I am currently training in Aikido and I imagine other martial arts are similar. The ultimate goal is not about overtaking our opponent, or putting more pressure on them. If they're coming at us with a certain amount of energy, the goal is not putting more energy out to defeat them. Actually, we're learning how to redirect the conflict. We're learning how to resolve the conflict without hurting our opponent, without also hurting ourselves, without giving too much. Just using that to create something else, perhaps create collaboration, perhaps create some sense of connection with the people we are encountering where there's a conflict.

We actually make conflict, so we can practice. That's what we do in martial arts. In Aikido, and I imagine in other martial arts, and in the practice of law - if we center ourselves, we can see clearly that the conflict lies outside of us. And so we don't have to let it in. If we're not centered, we're going to be pulled in a lot of different directions. Like I said, many times, we’ll be chasing after things; we’ll be grabbing. But if we know who we are, and we stay grounded, we can see the conflict for what it is, and it's not this direct attack on us. It's energy.

And by looking at that energy differently, we can transform it into something manageable. It's not going to go away, and it can even be useful. It could actually be information. If a client is pushing back about something, maybe that's information about what they need, what they're going through, something that has not been addressed, maybe something you can make better in how you're serving them. Or it can be something on a really bigger level that we don't even know because we were not able to get there because we were so caught up in the moment for that conflict. This transformation is changing it.

As opposed to something that we have to push against, get rid of, its kind of welcoming it and being like - “What can I learn from this? How can I use this to get to the next level, to learn something, to create something, to help the client spend their energy better?” - instead of fighting it. I know that’s habit and it's how the legal system has been set up. But what if we transformed it? What if we transform conflict into something useful? And yes, that transformation will save you so much precious time. I'm getting choked up. Imagine the time we save and the things we can create, if we just look at conflict differently.

Thank you to our sponsor for this episode and blog post: Cyndy Singh, Realtor for Keller Williams Bay Area Estates, with offices in San Jose, Los Gatos, Carmel, Los Altos and Monterey, CA. Cyndy works with family law attorneys to help assist clients going through a divorce and dealing with real property. Cyndy will provide you with information and options to help better assist in making an informed decision when it comes to divorce and real property. Cyndy Singh can be reached at 831-801-1240 or https://www.csinghrealestatepro.com.

To get your free copy of “The New Billable Hour” book and other resources, visit www.newbillablehour.com. If you are interested in working with Ritu to transform your relationship with your law practice, schedule a free consultation here: https://letsmeet.io/ritugoswamyesq/consultation

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