What can we learn from lawyers? A lot.
Lawyers advocate for their clients in front of jurors who will make the critical decision whether to acquit or convict their clients. That is high stakes. The skills lawyers use to advocate for their clients are the same skills we all have to learn and master to effectively advocate for ourselves and others, when necessary.
Heather Hansen has written an excellent book, "The Elegant Warrior" that teaches us how to effectively advocate for our position in life, business and at home. She has captured this in her book from her twenty years of experience working as a lawyer. The book is short and simple but packs a lot of punch. I learned a lot from this book; hence, I had so many questions after reading it that Heather was kind enough to answer a few of them below.
I highly recommend you get this book, read it, study it, and practice what Heather teaches. Soon you will start seeing results when you have to advocate for yourself if you want to win. As Heather points out, if you are well prepared and ready to fight, the other side will be highly motivated to settle with you rather than duke it out with you in a trial which is unpredictable. Now, don't you wish you had this critical skill for success?
You can learn more from Heather by listening to her podcast The Elegant Warrior Podcast with Heather Hansen.
Also, you can get more information about Heather Hansen on her website heatherhansenpresents.com.
When someone tells a story, how do you know that you are not being manipulated?
The short answer is practice. Twenty years of watching people answer questions at deposition and at trial have made me adept at reading the tone of voice and body language. But the best way to be sure is to compare the story to other evidence. For example, if you're a customer going to buy a car, you have the evidence of competitors' prices, online reviews, past experience with cars. Some types of evidence are more relatable than others. Still, I try to collect as much evidence as possible before making a judgment, and I recommend others do the same.
Do you role play with your clients before putting them on the stand so they are well prepared to handle anything the opposing attorney may throw at them?
Yes! Role-playing is vital any time you have to advocate for yourself. Being on the stand is stressful and completely outside of my clients' comfort zone. The more we practice the more comfortable it becomes. And if I can ask tougher questions in our "mock cross exams" than opposing counsel does at trial, I've done my job.
What keeps the jury's attention in a case since people today don't have a long attention span? Isn't this a challenge today not only for lawyers but non-lawyers too?
You'd be surprised at how invested jurors become. Most people don't want to be chosen, but once they are, they work hard to pay attention. That said, they do fall asleep. Often. I find my voice is helpful because I'm often the only woman in the courtroom. Surprises keep jurors interested, and my voice is a surprise after hearing male voices for hours. I try to incorporate other surprises too.
As you mention in your book that jurors are human, so do they occasionally get swayed by lawyer's performance more than the evidence that the lawyer has presented?
Yes. In many ways, a trial is often like theater, and the one who puts on the best show wins.
I have never had a doctor on one of my juries. But one thing I have going for the doctors I represent in a trial is that every juror is a patient. So I think, as humans, jurors are more swayed by their personal experiences and perspectives as a patient. And that is hard to overcome.
You write not to "fake it 'till you make it," but grow it. But don't we all occasionally have to fake it to get a foot in the door so we get the opportunity to grow it.
I think faking it never works. I think you have to find something inside that you have real confidence in and show that until it grows.
I know juries can read fake from a million miles away, and they hate it. But if a client shows them some humor, some confidence, some love for what they do, the jury responds with interest, and then the confidence grows.
You wrote short chapters that got to the point. Is this based on how you would present a case to the jury by keeping it short, simple, and to the point? You use the following format: Heading, Famous Quote, Story with a Lesson, Proof, Summary. Is this something you ever use when you are presenting to the jury?
It is similar. We also write briefs in a similar format. But I think my preference for short chapters comes from the TV Work I do. On TV, I have one minute to make my point. That makes you very aware of how much time you're taking from a person's life.....
Five Book Recommendations by Heather Hansen:
1-To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel Pink
2-The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy
3-Can You Hear Me Now? How to Connect with People in a Virtual World by Nick Morgan
4-Data Story: Explain Data and Inspire Action Through Story by Nancy Duarte
5-What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobe Yamada
Jay Oza is an author, speaker, executive coach. He makes people thrive on high stakes stage whether it's for a job interview, a sales presentation or a high-stakes speech. He is the author of the book Winning Speech Moments: How to Achieve Your Objective with Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere. Please download the speech checklist that you can use to help you with your next high stakes speech.
Please contact him if you would like to have a two 75 minute coaching session on job interviewing or high-stakes speaking or interested in inviting him to give a talk on job Interviewing or high-stakes speaking at your event. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.