Thursday, November 5, 2009

So then I says...

I had a conference call this morning, and I am coming to the horrified realization that I might be one of those lawyers who sounds like they are talking just to hear themselves talk. Sometimes, like today, it’s as if I am standing back from myself in my head, listening to myself go on and on about whatever useless-in-the-grand-scheme-of-the-universe point I’m so desperate to make. “Kate,” I tell myself, “please be quiet.” On occasion this translates into my abruptly clamping my lips together, mangling the sentence I had been showing off. I don’t think I oversell a point; just that I take longer to make it than strictly necessary.

I need to know the answer to this. I’m going to conduct a scientific poll of three people and I will get right back to you.

They are taking long enough to answer that I think I have an answer.

Oh, dear.

Ten minutes later: Two answered “no,” but I could read the “yes” between the lines. One came out with it: Yes. She tried to play it off like it was a nice thing brought on by birthing children, like before I’d been some tight-lipped battleaxe so that this was just a friendly improvement.

I’m more concerned than ever about my performance these days because it’s that joyful time of year when companies contemplate how to cut $$$$ from their books. And by $$$$, I mean real live human beings with mouths to feed and mortgages to pay and Christmas a-comin’. As usual, I don’t have any reason to think I’ll be one of the unlucky ones, but you just never know. It makes me feel all nasty and powerless inside. Who is hiring garrulous commercial lawyers these days? Nobody, that’s who.

So for the sake of getting through the day let’s just assume for now I miss this round of head-chopping. In the meantime I’ll work on my brevity in work conversations. Let’s take an example of before and after.

NOW:

Customer’s counsel: “So Kate, how’s the weather out there?”

Kate: “Oh, it’s beautiful! We’re supposed to hit 75 degrees today. That’s why it’s so nice to live in Denver – it can snow one day but it’s completely melted the next. Keep the snow up in the mountains, that’s what I say. I’m really not one for cold weather. I don’t ski, either, but it’s nice to be up in the mountains and look around and drink cocoa and all that. I don’t know what I’m going to do when my kids are old enough to ski and I’m going to have to be up there all the time. Have I told you my husband’s an architect? He’s going to design us a house up there one day, and then I will probably just stay back at the house and make chili for everyone while they’re out getting cold. Although I get kind of jealous just thinking about it, like why do they get to be out having fun but I’m just the galley slave back at the house? But it’s scary thinking of trying to learn to ski when the rest of your family is already really good at it, you know? God, sometimes I am just so self-defeating.”

CC: “Right…”

LATER:

Customer’s counsel: “So Kate, how’s the weather out there?”

Kate: “Fine.”

CC: “I read about all that snow. Has it melted?”

Kate: “Yep.”

Brief and to the point. So they’ll think I have some kind of socialization disorder, but as lawyers they run across that with half their colleagues every day.

1 comment:

Laura [What I Like] said...

This is hilarious...I totally am with you on the weirdly aborted sentences when right in the middle you realize you're making no sense and stop speaking. I do it all the time and am mortified each time!