Man behind books confused by compact discHere at SEO for Lawyers, we believe in ditching services that do not keep up with modern technology. Sometimes that means analyzing a service we have had for a long time, and determining if that service continues to be the best available. If it is not, then we have to make the decision to make a switch. However, sometimes it can be difficult for attorneys (along with everyone else) to give up the way they have been doing something in favor of something new.  In Luke’s last post, he discussed why he believes making the switch to Gmail is a superior option to Outlook. Hoo-boy did that cause some controversy! We received messages and emails out there from people who staunchly defended their Outlook email. And some people might have legitimate reasons for keeping Outlook. But others took a knee jerk reaction to the post and began defending Outlook without stopping to question: is there a better option? And that got me thinking; how often in business do we avoid making changes that could ultimately be beneficial and increase profits? This week, I will be talking about the psychology behind what may be causing resistance to change, and costing you dollars.

Your confirmation bias may be keeping your law firm stuck in neutral

Traffic sign that says to embrace changeEveryone has biases. Our biases color the way we see facts and shape our perception of reality. Lawyers are often skilled at identifying witness biases and picking them apart. Yet, even attorneys may not be aware of their own biases, and these biases can negatively impact business. In psychology, there is a specific term that explains a great deal about why people sometimes make seemingly irrational decisions. The term “confirmation bias” refers to the tendency for people to pay attention to information that confirms what they want to believe or already know, while ignoring all information that may be contradictory. To use the Outlook vs. Gmail example, if you have been using Outlook for a long time and are looking to justify that decision, you may pay close attention to others who use Outlook. You may seek out articles that discuss why Outlook is a good option, you may assume emails you receive are from other Outlook users, and you may overestimate the number of attorneys who actually use the service. All the while, you may unconsciously filter out conflicting information, such as researching other email options, immediately poking holes in articles such as Luke’s, or forgetting about any problems you have had with your email service, such as wishing you could look up an email from your phone from court.

With that said, does that mean you should switch your email from Outlook to Gmail? Not necessarily. But it is easy to see how being biased towards something you already use may make you hesitate to look into something that is unfamiliar. As humans, we enjoy being right- and as lawyers you may even enjoy it a little more. It is sometimes difficult to admit that someone else might know best. As consultants for law offices throughout the country, we see lawyers making frustrating and unproductive decisions every day. For attorneys who insist on spending thousands of dollars on Adwords, rather than analyzing the quality of their website, to lawyers who find their law offices routinely shut down by computer viruses and technical problems and yet cling to their servers and current operating systems. Almost every law office has something that does not run quite as smoothly as it could, and yet drags its heels to make a serious change even though switching would increase profits. If you know you have been thinking about making a change, but have been reluctant to pull the trigger, keep a few of the following things in mind.

Make sure your biases aren’t affecting your law practice

There are some easy ways to check yourself and ensure that your biases aren’t having a negative impact on your decision making when it comes to your law practice. First, if you are contemplating a decision or notice that something in your office is not running smoothly, have a heart to heart with yourself. Ask yourself what is motivating you to keep things the way they are. Is your resistance due to fear of the cost? Fear of not having the knowledge that is required to make the change? Fear of making the employees angry? Fear, doubt, and insecurity are powerful motivators. If these are affecting your business practice, it is important to be honest and recognize this fact.

Second, seek out information that contradicts what you believe and that differs from your usual methods. Attempt to understand why others may do things differently from you. Question your beliefs and find the pitfalls in your technology. Different attorneys may prioritize different things, and it is possible that you will arrive at the same conclusion you started with. But the important thing to do is understand and evaluate the other options available.

And finally, question what you know. Being a busy lawyer, it is near impossible to keep up to date on everything all of the time. Learn to question if you have fallen behind in what you believe to be true. All too often, businesses gradually fail because they cling to the way “things have always been.” Things change, and the best way to manage a business practice changes with them. What was once true, may not be so anymore. Always learn to examine your perspective and determine if the facts back up what you believe.

Change is never easy, and when it comes to making changes on a business level, it can be even more tedious and difficult to put into place. Have you ever been hesitant to make a change in your office? Have you had a positive experience with implementing a change you were nervous about? Hit up the comments and let us know your story.