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California Lawyer

Courtly Manners: Better to Type, or to Talk?

Delivering painful or delicate news via email or text message can be risky. When a client opens a message, there is no reassuring voice or facial expression to clarify intent. Throw in jokes or sarcasm (which are typically lost in translation anyway), and you're likely adding insult to insult.

Even seasoned attorneys can make the same misjudgments, so many firms are taking preventive action. Here are a few signs that you need face time or a telephone chat:

- The subject of the exchange is sensitive, or has the potential to escalate.

- Communications shift from addressing facts to opinion or critique.

- Messages become strained or abrupt; a coolness permeates the conversation and the usual pleasantries are forgone.
Like insurance, a telephone conversation can go a long way toward protecting your client relationship. And when you hang up the conversation is over, whereas an email can live forever.

A good rule of thumb for email: When in doubt, don't send it out; pick up the phone.

Published October 2013

RCC Blog: Young Professionals' Corner

What Your Handshake Says About You

A good handshake is more important than most people realize. It can often times make or break your chances at securing a job opportunity, a perspective client or score an important business connection.

For college grads especially, a good handshake can create a lasting first impression and a competitive edge over other potential job candidates. It only takes seven seconds for a person to form a first impression, while nonverbal cues have more than four times the impact on someone than a verbal cue.* While this little action is often overlooked by young professionals alike, handshakes are good indicators of a person’s personality, character and confidence level. Keep in mind that no employer wants to hire someone whose handshake brings attention to a weakness or flaw (something unpleasant). A solid handshake is just another form of self-promotion and can even enhance your resume, work portfolio and appearance. Don’t be the guy who is remembered as the one who had the shake of a SIGH…dead fish or the one with the OUCH…Kung Fu grip.

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ProfNet Connect

By Polina Opelbaum

The Q&A Team: Get a Grip on Your Handshake

Dear Q&A Team,

I am going on an interview next week, and I would like to strengthen my handshake. When should I shake my interviewer’s hand? What are the different types of handshakes? Any tips for improving my handshake?

Shaky Skill


Dear Shaky Skill,

Have no fear! By the end of this post you will have learned everything you need about the handshake. Here are three ProfNet Connect experts who will help you impress your interviewer next week:

Importance of a Handshake

“A good handshake is vital and can often times make or break your chances at securing a job opportunity, a perspective client or an important business connection,” explains Crystal Rockwood, authorized trainer in the latest standards of business etiquette by the Emily Post Institute. “The handshake is part of the first impression that you make and can often times reflect your personality, confidence level and character.”

Rockwood added to the list with some other handshake types:

Finger Grab Handshake - This handshake shows you’re not committed; disinterested.


Tight, Squeeze Handshake - These actually cause pain as in bone crunching, shows trying to prove something.


No Eye Contact Shake - Demonstrates lack of confidence, genuineness, possible concern for others.


Hug   Handshake - When you meet   someone for the first time, this is a big no-no. It shows that you are unaware of someone’s personal boundaries and lack of social skills


Firm Shake With Eye Contact- This   handshake shows confidence, professionalism and poise.


 LisaMarie Luccioni, communication professor at College of Arts & Sciences, agrees with Rockwood. She says, “Everything communicates, especially a handshake during first impression formation (job interview).”

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California Lawyer

Courtly Manners: Are Your Emails Rude?

At a legal industry retreat where 25 attorneys from various firms and companies are discussing business outreach strategy, opinions about email etiquette fly around the room - many delivered like an unwelcome gift from a seagull.

"No one cares if you sign your name or not to an email," one attorney says with a dismissive wave of her hand. "That's what my signature block is for," another litigator says tiredly. "The person already knows who I am," snorts a third. Then, in a quiet voice, the general counsel for a $2 billion company taps his pen and says, "It matters to me."

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