Each time I’m engaged as a lawyer to negotiate for a client, I know I’m entering an existing conflict system. What I can never know is the impact on that system of my involvement. In the interests of doing no more harm, all I can do is to be alert to what the system feeds back to me, and keep asking myself questions about the effect of my actions.
My guide to keeping my involvement constructive means asking myself:
What does it feel like to read my correspondence?
Am I remembering my own conflict style, and how it is playing out in this case?
Are there non-lawyers I should be working with to assist resolution?
Am I comfortable to meet the other practitioner in person, recalling the tone of my communication with them?
Am I remembering my client’s end goal in every interaction?
What is going on between me and the other practitioner? How can it be more positive?
Down the track, will I be proud of the way I am acting?
Am I sure I’m not being triggered by communication form the other lawyer?
What is the intention behind communication that is triggering me?
What assumptions am I making?
Am I reacting or responding?
Am I coaching my client on when to ‘let it go’?
Am I acting like a grown-up?
Should I ask someone trusted to review my correspondence at times?
Is there another practitioner who could work better with the other lawyer than I can?
Is anything stopping me from picking up the phone and calling the other lawyer?
Am I standing between my client and their conflict, or am I personally part of it?
Am I remembering that bravado in correspondence never settled anything?
Have I reviewed my draft correspondence as often as I need to?
Should I be reaching out to a colleague/mentor/health professional for support?