BY SARAH MYERS
Lawyers excel at many things, including arguing effectively, researching and focusing on details, outwitting and out thinking others, and avoiding showing weakness. But, as Dr. Fionna Travis points out in her article, "Marry a Lawyer? Proceed with Caution," these very qualities are contraindicated for personal relationships. The practice of law often requires attributes such as ambition, skepticism, defensiveness, perfectionism, and the need to be in control. Cultivating and maintaining healthy personal relationships, on the other hand, requires humility, forgiveness, humor, warmth, vulnerability, and open communication.
Finding Your Equilibrium
How can lawyers be successful in both their careers and personal lives? It's a tricky balance. The first step is to purposefully use different skill sets in our professional and personal relationships. When we are at work, we can put on a problem solving, argumentative, and adversarial hat. But when we are with our loved ones, we need to change the hat. Personal relationships are not meant to be adversarial, but rather collegial, understanding, and compassionate. This isn't always easy to achieve after a day of seemingly nonstop "battles." Try these simple tips:
1. Slow down your competitive drive when you walk in the door. Don't focus on winning the argument or figuring out the quickest way to solve the problem. Be open to discussion, particularly listening to and understanding your loved one's point of view. Be more willing to concede the point when you're at home or with friends!
2. Be honest, open, and vulnerable. Ask for help when you need it, take off the superhero mask, and allow your friends and loved ones to assist you. If you don't let people help you, you prevent them from feeling valued in the relationship.
3. Note the difference between quality time and quantity time. It's not about how much time you are spending with loved ones; it's about being present and open with them. Stop ruminating and perseverating about what happened...