Be Open and Responsive to Feedback
A few weeks ago, Curt Runger of Attorney Mentors sent me a text message saying that he had been seeing my posts on LinkedIn and that if I would do one thing differently, LinkedIn’s algorithm would like me better and increase my visibility. I’ve known Curt for a while now and trust that when he tells me something, he knows what he’s talking about. So I implemented the change.
Over the past three years, I have never had particularly good results from sharing my blog posts on LinkedIn. Usually about 140 folks see the post on LinkedIn and a few will click the link to read the article. In fact, for the two blog posts I had shared before implementing Curt’s changes, “How Are Your 2019 Goals Progressing?” had 130 views, and “You Are Expendable … Unless You Develop Business Relationships” had 148 views.
I followed Curt’s advice before sharing my next blog post, “Don’t Sacrifice Your Creativity to Your Law Practice,” on LinkedIn. I’m not being falsely modest when I say there’s nothing particularly special about that article. There are other articles I’ve written this year that have had more traction and contained more practical and applicable advice. But the results were very different, which I can only attribute to being open and responsive to feedback I was given. Within the first three days, that article was seen on LinkedIn more than 1300 times and the views continued to trickle in over the next few days.
In this instance, the feedback I got wasn’t that I was doing something poorly. Rather it was that I could be doing it more effectively with one small change. There are other times though, where the feedback is harder to hear and more unpleasant still to implement.
Being Responsive to Feedback That Is Hard to Hear
Recently, I was discussing with one of my partners a case that I was handling. It was a case that had a weird damages issue. I wasn’t convinced that the claimed damages truly arose from the incident that was the subject of the lawsuit. So I had mentally positioned the case as a relatively small one with some risk for greater exposure.
The more I described the case and the claims being made, the worse my partner’s body language got and there were a few genuine grimaces. When I finished presenting the case, his words told me the same thing his posture and facial expressions had already communicated. He evaluated the damages much differently than I had. This left me with two choices.
I could either follow my first instinct and get defensive. I had been working on this case for the better part of two years. I knew its issues and intricacies. I knew the parties, what they had said in depositions, and what they were likely to say at trial. I’ve considered every angle, and I have the right perspective on this thing.
Or I could try to consider things more objectively. A person who previously knew nothing about this matter had just been presented the case and drew a very different conclusion about the issues than I had. The jury is going to be in that exact same position. It’s possible then (perhaps even probable) that the jury reaches the same conclusion as did my partner. Perhaps my client and I will be best served if I elect to be appropriately responsive to feedback and re-evaluate my expectation … which I did.
Being Open to Feedback Is Essential to Sustained Success
One of the hard things about the practice of law (and life more generally) is that we typically learn more from our failures than our successes. But what if we could create a shortcut in that system and make our path less rocky? Make the learning curve a little less steep?
Before we get to the point of ultimate success or failure, we can create a feedback loop that puts us in a position to be introspective and evaluate our work. This enables us to make adjustments throughout the process, as opposed to after completion. Doing this, we can learn from smaller mistakes and self-correct without the necessity of experience some ultimate failure.
If you are willing to do that — seek feedback and constructive criticism — then act upon it, you will create a greater likelihood of experiencing continued growth and sustained success.
Photo by Richard Lewis.