The question.

AuthorHirsch, Stewart
PositionAsk the Authorities

In order to have diverse points of view for this month's question, we have reached both within and outside LMA and the legal profession.


I am working with an administrative colleague who can be professionally "unhelpful" and, as a result, can sometimes make it difficult for me to do my job (marketing director) as well as I would like. Now that the holidays are here, I want to find a way to make that relationship work better. Any ideas for resolutions?


Leslie Meagley


Why wait for the holidays to begin improving a relationship? Try to schedule time to talk with this person right away, whether it's over coffee or in their office. As Susan Scott says in "Fierce Conversations": "Our lives succeed or fail one conversation at a time."

Here are some tips that I've often found helpful when encountering challenging relationships:

* Assume positive intent. Start by assuming both of you have a common goal, whether it's meeting a deadline, delivering top notch service or exceeding a partner's expectations.

* Understand their perspective and take responsibility for yours. It takes two to build a relationship.

* Be specific and straightforward about the problem and how you'd like to resolve it.

* Try to find common ground and/or shared goals.

* Talk to the person directly and be fully present. No email conversations, and don't text or email while you are speaking with them.

* Finally, plan for more than one meeting. It often takes multiple conversations to develop the mutual trust and respect that is lacking right now.

* "Crucial Conversations" by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, Switzler is another excellent resource.

Leslie Meagley is director of marketing for Perkins Coie LLP. She is a founding member and past president of the LMA's Northwest chapter.

Laura Freedman Pedrick


Usually, it's not that they don't want to help. Like us, our colleagues have competing demands on their time. Typically, we don't have the same genetic make-up. We don't speak the same language. However, since we both want to support our attorneys successfully, we, in marketing, have to communicate in a way that admin people understand. Here are some ideas that have worked for me:

* Develop a personal relationship. We tell our attorneys how valuable it is to develop relationships. We need to do the same with our admin colleagues.

* Use some of the resources most familiar to them as part of your project management...

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