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Legal Talent & Inclusion

How to proactively seek feedback & receive it well

· 5 minute read

· 5 minute read

In a new white paper and podcast, legal experts discuss the challenges lawyers face when receiving and learning from feedback about their legal performance

“The most important thing [for career success] is to be proactive, not passive in your career, and that includes getting out there and seeking feedback and not stopping with just some generic feedback,” says Ann Jenrette-Thomas, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Stinson and co-author of Thomson Reuters Institute’s new white paper, 5 Steps to Proactively Seek Feedback & Receive It Well.

In addition to Jenrette-Thomas, Dr. Larry Richard, CEO of Lawyer Brain; and Betsy Miller and Tory Nugent, co-chairs of the public client practice at the law firm Cohen Milstein, acted as contributors to this white paper.

In the white paper Dr. Richard discusses the high-skepticism/low-resilience construct of lawyers and how it can be a barrier to properly receiving feedback. “We could have 10 pieces of good news, but if there’s one piece of bad news, that’s what we pay attention to and that’s what we remember,” Dr, Richard explains. “And the low-resilience means we don’t like hearing bad news.” In the white paper, he gives tactics on how to prioritize strength-based feedback to overcome the barriers that awareness of this construct creates.

You can download a copy of the new white paper, 5 Steps to Proactively Seek Feedback & Receive It Well here.

Miller and Nugent, as regular feedback-givers at their firm, provide additional insights on how identity triggers — which, for a lawyer, can threaten the perception of who they are — produce the body’s natural flight, fight, or freeze stress response to danger. However, this dynamic also interrupts the ability of attorneys to hear and learn from constructive feedback.

When this happens, there are ways to respond effectively, Miller suggests. “Remember that the thing you have most control over is your own ability to practice how you receive [the feedback] and how you engage in some habit-forming practices that change a neurological pathway so that your body knows what to do when it is confronted by one of those moments that feels like an attack,” Miller explains.

For more on receiving feedback from your clients and how to listen to them, click here.

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