Diffusing Emotions- One of the Many “Hats” of an Attorney

Reviewed and approved by Kathryn Wayne-Spindler

An attorney deals with a multitude of issues in a single day. Often, an attorney needs to be multiple different people in a day, or just be well versed in many different areas. Attorneys wear many different “hats” on the job. One of these “hats” is learning to diffuse emotions and building trust with their clients. Attorneys are often taught that their career will be an extroverted and socially forward, on the other hand emotional diffusion is not taught, but is learned with hands-on experience.

Attorneys are continuously developing their education further everyday on the job. They must have the ability to pick up on social cues, people skills, and diffuse situations while upholding the strength of character to stick to their guns. These are characteristics which cannot be taught and only learned through experience.

In order for an attorney to be successful at diffusing an emotional situation is to act with emotional intelligence rather than solely intelligence. Family law cases are emotional rollercoasters, which can take a toll on an attorney if they allow themselves to be put in the middle of the back and forth between the parties. An attorney should put their emotions to the side and separate themselves from the emotions. Family law attorneys need to alleviate expectations of their clients, all while supporting their client against the other party and the court. The attorney must separate emotions and replace them with rational thoughts while still supporting and confirming their client’s emotions. Emotions are very real. They are even more real for the person who is feeling them. Attorneys should never ignore their client’s emotions, as this can cause a break in the trust between an attorney and a client. Further, this can make it difficult to achieve the overall objectives of the parties and opposing counsel.

Highly emotional cases often take up more time and resources. This can be more expensive for a client as they continue to pay for emotional driven hearings, calls, emails, etc. An attorney who chooses to diffuse the emotions and not feed into them will benefit both parties and their families in the long run.

Attorneys need to stay out of the drama, as being involved can put the attorney at risk of being part of the drama. All attorneys should remain professional with opposing counsel as they are their colleague and not the enemy. Professionalism can help an attorney’s reputation, which will help their client in the long run. Being able to create a resolution rather than animosity will help their client by sparing them from more emotional distress and high attorney fees. Finding a compromise between the parties and keeping emotions separate keeps an attorney professional and keeps a client’s best interests in mind.

An attorney should not be afraid to tell a client no. Clients may ask an attorney to do something that is not by the books, by the law, or which may harm the client in the eyes of the court. In these types of situations, a client’s emotions are running high, and they can become so overwhelming that a client loses the ability to think clearly. An attorney telling a client no can bring the client back down and help the client to see more clearly. Being able to diffuse rather than encourage a client’s irrational feelings is a crucial skill for an attorney to have.

A family law attorney is able to see the black, the white, and all the gray areas of a case. An attorney needs to bring perspective to clients and separate the emotions from the facts. In cases where children are involved, parents often bring the kids into the matter to use the children against the other party. The parents may not even realize that they are doing this to the children, as the parents feel like they are being victimized. Therefore, they lose sight of the bigger picture and most important factor which is what is best for the children. Even if their feelings are valid, the parent sometimes needs a reminder that it is about the children and not them. This can be a difficult situation for an attorney because as for the attorney, the client is the main priority. Although, an attorney must keep in mind that the children are often the court’s main priority. An attorney must be in line with what would be most helpful and successful in the courtroom, and in the long run can help the client save money and the headache of fighting potentially losing battles.

Tapping into the emotional management role is one of the many “hats” that an attorney will wear, especially as a family law attorney. The separation of emotion and reality from a case will allow the attorney and the client to see the bigger picture and put things into perspective. Being transparent and supportive can go a long way in building trust between an attorney and a client.




The attorneys at Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates are experienced attorneys who change with the times to meet the needs of their clients.  Contact the Milford, Michigan law office of Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates at 248-676-1000 for assistance. The attorneys of Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates practice law throughout Southeastern Michigan including Oakland, Wayne, Washtenaw, Genesee and Livingston counties as well as four mid-Michigan counties Clare, Gladwin, Ogemaw and Roscommon. The attorneys handle cases in Milford; Highland; Hartland; White Lake; Wixom; Commerce; Walled Lake; Waterford; West Bloomfield; Linden; Fenton; Flint; Grand Blanc; Holly; South Lyon; New Hudson; Howell; Clare; Gladwin; Houghton Lake; Higgins Lake; and many more Michigan communities. And soon to be opening another office in Dadeville, Alabama.


For more information, please see article “Diffusing Emotions in Emotional Cases – Building Trust” by Emily Latiolais on