As a lawyer, you know the power of persuasion, whether you are trying to persuade a judge or jury, a client, or a party you are negotiating with. We recently came across an article in Inc., written for business people, about seven things persuasive people do, and thought we would tailor it for attorneys.
After all, you can never be too persuasive, right?
Here are three tips to help you become a more persuasive attorney:
1. Pick Your Battles.
Pick your battles? I can hear it now, "We don't pick our battles, they come to us." Sure, we can't choose if a client gets sued or is negotiating a deal, but trials and negotiations are like a war comprised of many small battles. There are many opportunities within each project for you to "pick your battles."
First, decide on what issues are paramount for your client's success and stick to those issues. You can't win them all, so focus on issues that will have the largest impact, or are the most important to your client. The most important part of picking your battles, though, is knowing when enough is enough. If one route is not working, ditch it and focus your efforts elsewhere.
This is so important, but so underutilized. Just. Listen. As lawyers, we like to fill the air with our ideas, arguments, and thoughts -- but sometimes that can hurt us. It's good to sit back and just listen to what the other party is saying. You can't persuade without listening.
3. Find Common Ground.
When you're trying to persuade, there may be an inclination to constantly point out differences in each party's arguments. But rather than point out differences, it's often better to find similarities. There may be points of fact or law that both parties agree on; find them and use them as the foundation for your arguments. If premised on facts and law that both parties agree on, it will be harder to argue around.
Persuasion is an art form. One of the most valuable lessons we learned in law school is that the best persuaders make people think they came to those conclusions on their own. Follow these tips, and you'll be on your way to having opponents think your favored outcome was their idea all along.
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