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How firm owners can benefit from compassion

With the rise of technology and the increased digitisation of working practices, soft and high EQ skills remain more important than ever, according to this lawyer, business owner and mentor – who argued that compassion should be an important aspect of legal workplaces.

user iconLauren Croft 28 September 2023 SME Law
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Rose Tinted Law founder Rose Inglis said that in today’s legal landscape, compassion and soft skills are falling by the wayside – and that this is resulting in decreased psychological safety, burnout and workplace culture.

“Compassion goes beyond understanding someone’s emotions (empathy) to include a desire to alleviate their suffering or help them in some way. In this sense, compassion is often described as a more active response compared to empathy. It involves a genuine wish to alleviate the pain or distress of another person. Compassion can lead to actions or behaviours aimed at providing support, comfort, or assistance to someone in need. It’s a motivating force for acts of kindness and generosity,” she told Lawyers Weekly.

“The most obvious application of compassion is to our clients. However, we can also apply compassion to ourselves and others to improve our professional relationships. If we acknowledge the hardship or challenge and then consciously ask ourselves, ‘How can I respond to this? What can I do here to make things a little bit better?’ this will lead to small acts of kindness that will foster trust and respect amongst our colleagues and lead to improved workplace cultures.”

 
 

Ms Inglis runs workshops delving into how compassion can improve psychological safety in the workplace – and said that law students, lawyers and law firm owners have all seen numerous benefits.

“Applying compassion in legal workplaces is a key step towards creating meaningful relationships based on trust, respect and loyalty. Research shows that the impact of kindness has positive impacts on one’s own health and that selfless giving to others is associated with happiness, wellbeing, resilience and resistance to burnout, fewer depression symptoms and better relationships,” she added.

“And there are certain skills that we can actively work on and practice, that will help us embody compassion towards ourselves and others. Things like mindfulness, active listening, practising skilful responses to our triggers, compassionate coaching techniques and even forgiveness. These are all things, as modern leaders and innovative and game-changing legal professionals, that we can learn, and get better at, and model ourselves by leading by example.”

This can also be an important element in addressing burnout in the profession, which Ms Inglis said the causes of which are often “multifactorial and caused by the workplace itself”.

“There are six factors of burnout, including work overload, a lack of control, insufficient recognition of rewards and recognition, conflict or a lack of community or collegiality, lack of fairness and misalignment of values. Some or all of these factors may be present in a particular instance of burnout.

“Applying compassion to ourselves, if we are in this state of extreme exhaustion, and connecting with like-minded people – mentors, friends, colleagues, etc., who deeply understand compassion, is key to helping move us forward from burnout and into post-traumatic growth. This may involve engaging with coaching or learning and training from those who deeply understand compassion, people who can provide invaluable strategies and insights for navigating challenging situations and inspire and teach us to be the legal leaders we want to be.”

As such, Ms Inglis said she is “on a mission to rebrand soft skills as evergreen skills” and that “soft” is actually a misconception.

“Your soft skills, or interpersonal skills, are what makes you, you, and what makes you uniquely placed to thrive in your own way. Interpersonal skills like listening, mentoring, emotional intelligence, leadership, creativity or curiosity are evergreen skills as regardless of which stage of your career you are in, or where you are working, or which role, these skills will help you build trust and rapport with you clients and colleagues, and be a person that people want to have around and work this. This is where the key to future legal career success lies.

“While legal expertise remains crucial, the ability to communicate effectively, empathise with clients, negotiate skillfully, and collaborate with multidisciplinary teams is becoming increasingly vital to legal career success. In an era of technological advancements like AI-driven legal research and document automation, skills such as problem solving, emotional intelligence, and adaptability set legal professionals apart as they are evergreen. They are evergreen because they form the foundation of human interaction, adaptability and personal growth,” she added.

“These skills enable lawyers to navigate complex legal issues, build strong client relationships, and provide holistic solutions in an evolving legal landscape where the human touch is irreplaceable. And, while specific job requirements and technologies may change over time, these skills remain timeless and continue to play a pivotal role in achieving success and personal fulfilment in various aspects of life.”

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