Address Personality Conflicts Instead of Avoiding Them

Even if you make every effort to be a polite and civil attorney, the legal profession makes it easy to have combustible relationships with opposing counsel and even other attorneys in your office.

The next time you find yourself cursing your sworn enemy, douse the fire instead of fanning the flames.

Make an effort to get to know the person

The more you know about someone, the harder it is to dislike them (usually). The next time you see that one attorney you cannot stand, make small talk and see what happens. Chances are, they also like ______ and maybe they grew up in ______, where you also happen to be from.

Of course, maybe they hate kittens and make mean faces at babies, but I doubt it. You do not have to make a new best friend, but making an effort to get to know them can do wonders.

If you prefer not to have the conversation over the phone or in the courthouse, invite them to lunch. Meeting face to face can do wonders for misunderstandings and personality conflicts. It is much harder to be abrasive in person and it is much easier to realize they are not as bad as you think.

Tackle the conflict head on

If step one does not work, make an overt effort to confront the issue. Is it awkward? Of course it is. But three minutes of awkwardness can reset a busted relationship and make your life a whole lot easier down the road.

If you do bring it up, be sure to take acknowledge some responsibility. It usually takes two to tango—whether you started or merely enflamed the conflict is irrelevant—the goal is put an end to it.

In some situations, it might take more than heart to heart talk. But if there is hope of a resolution, it is worth pursuing. Life is too short to waste your day hating opposing counsel or your co-workers.



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