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Lawyer etiquette during the holidays: avoid the ‘naughty list’

It is that time of year again where ample opportunities exist to build or blow up client and family relations. Can you avoid the “naughty list”? Certainly.  Here are some tips for mastering awkward encounters.

Particularly irksome to many attorneys is the holiday greeting.  “It’s like walking on eggshells,” says William Shreve, IP partner at Knobbe Martens in Irvine.  “There is a natural tension in the holidays as to what you wish: ‘Merry Christmas’? ‘Happy Hanukkah’? You always walk the line, not knowing their religious background or if they are active in practicing their faith,” he says.

 

Most opt for just saying “Happy Holidays,” but it was clear when speaking with several professionals that none were too enthusiastic about that greeting.  “It’s dull,” said one. “Boring,” said another.  Are we overplaying the political correctness card?  Family law partner, Leann Kaufman, of Blonska and Kaufman in Tustin says, “People perceive others to be more hypersensitive than they really are.”

Are we so fragile that we need couch time if someone wishes us joy—would we not refer business because a happy Solstice or Diwali came our way?  WE might if the person comes across as so opinionated that others are les human if of a different mindset.

The business etiquette model, as taught by the Emily Post Institute, arguably the nation’s authority on the ever-changing mode of manners, the principles of etiquette, is based on three values: consideration, respect and honesty.  You can show consideration and respect, but without honesty, the other two are meaningless.  If you are not sincere, people will not believe you, won’t find you credible, and will not trust you.  Trust is essential for new and continued business.  Being genuine in your holiday expression is part of that mix.

Published December 2012