Raw brain power is absolutely necessary to get into a good law school, get through it hopefully with excellent grades, and pass the bar. Success along that route can create the default or set down the grooves in the brain wiring that intelligence is not only enough. It's more than enough. That will win the day in all situations. Nothing more is needed.
Then the crash comes. There is no job offer. That tap on the shoulder comes sooner for that big brain than other associates. New business doesn't develop. The jury rules for the opposing party. No interviews from media.
Lawyers who wind up in that pickle will find it hard to do course-correction. That's because being "tone-deaf" means a deficit in the the ability to size up the audience, even if it's a party of one, determine the best approach, and then create the pitch. The latter includes metalinguistic factors such as facial expressions, body language, nodding at the right times and with just the right energy, and hand gestures.
Lawyers determined to improve their connecting outcomes can try the following:
Get with real people. That could be as simple as shopping in Goodwill or a consignment store. Watch their metalinguistic signaling. Try some of that out in front of a mirror at home.
Tape your voice. Play it back. Would you want to do business with this person?
Focus on the right gift to give a loved one. That entails viewing the situation from their perspective, not your own. If the gift doesn't go over that means you're off in understanding another human being. Take a Dale Carnegie course or two. Or be coached by a Dale Carnegie instructor such as Michael Francoeur (firstname.lastname@example.org) Miracles can happen. Twice in my career when I turned inward, a Dale Carngie seminar, which is tax-deductible, turned me back toward people.
Ask for feeback. Suppose you didn't get the job or contract assignment. With a show of authenthic humility, ask for some data about why you weren't the right fit and recommendations for improving your performance art on interviews.
Position each day as opportunity to start over. In a volatile marketplace where there is a glut in almost every category of professional, the most productive strategy is to take a fresh point of view. Every morning. Scan the horizon for emerging opportunities. Then pounce on them.
Befriend strangers. The iconic research in the 1970s showed the strength of weak ties. Joe who runs the coffee shop in your building probably knows more about personnel matters than anyone else. He can clue you in that Peter just got canned in that mid-sized law firm on the fifth floor. You follow up on that lead. You get the job. You bet, you do backflips thanking Joe.
In a stressed-out universe of super-competitors, few are going to put up with tone-deaf players. They rub up against us the wrong way. You have it in your power to stop that from continuing to happen. Yes, you can re-start your day, right this minute.