Stop, look and listen

To a France Inter audience this past weekend, American journalist and Obama-watcher David Page commented the U.S. President’s rise to the world’s top political job virtually from nowhere can be attributed at least in part to a technique described at pedestrian rail crossings: Stop, Look and Listen.  What can lawyers learn from this?

(la version français suit)

According to Page, Obama on the campaign circuit invariably waits for his interlocutor to speak, intensely looks him in the eye and pauses, on purpose, after his counterpart has stopped talking.  Common and natural political behaviour, you might say.  Except in his case, it appears exceptionally studied and he rarely strays while greeting members of the public.

Lawyers tend to fall into two camps: good listeners and bad ones.  There really seems to be no middle ground on this one, although that is a matter of perception.  Most junior lawyers don’t feel they have much to say.  But one day, as if overnight, they can switch into the bad listener category.  The consequence of being perceived a bad listener is that it disengages the other party.  Disengagement deadens the desire to work constructively, and in the result you become less effective as a lawyer-communicator.  People will not negotiate with you for as long.  Judges will turn off your argument if they perceive you are not processing their concerns on a particular factual or legal point.

A pause after the other party has stopped talking conveys the message that what you are about to say was not hatched before they had their say.  Try it at your next meeting, and then incorporate it in court submissions or deal negotiations.  You’ll be surprised how effective it is, both for your ability to read the situation and for your counterpart’s involvement in what you hope to achieve.

~   ~   ~

Pour les écouteurs de France Inter, le journaliste américain et suiveur d’Obama David Page a récemment commenté que le succès du Président des Etats-Unis peut être attribué au moins en partie à une technique décrite aux avertissement aux piétons aux chemins de fer: Stop, Look and Listen. Qu’est que les avocats peuvent apprendre de ceci?

Selon Page, Obama sur le circuit de la campagne attend toujours pour son interlocuteur de parler, le regarde intensément, et s’arrête, avant de parler pour quelques secondes après que son homologue a cessé de parler. Comportement naturel des hommes politiques, vous direz. Sauf dans son cas, il semble étudié et il erre rarement auprès les membres du public.

Les avocats ont tendance à tomber en deux camps: les bons auditeurs et les mauvais. La plupart des avocats juniors ne se sentent pas qu’ils ont beaucoup à dire. Mais un jour, comme si du jour au lendemain, ils peuvent passer dans la catégorie du mauvais auditeur. La conséquence d’être perçu un mauvais auditeur, c’est qu’il se désengage de l’autre partie. Le désengagement amortit le désir detravailler de manière constructive, et dans le résultat que vous devenez moins efficaces en tant qu’avocat-communicateur. Les gens ne négocieront pas avec vous aussi longtemps. Les juges s’éteignez de votre argument s’ils perçoivent que vous ne vous occupez pas de leurs préoccupations.

Une pause après l’autre partie a cessé de parler transmet le message que ce que vous allez dire n’a pas été tout pensé avant que vous les ayez écouté. Essayez-le à votre prochaine réunion, puis l’incorporer dans votre style devant les tribunaux judiciaires ou de négociations. Vous serez surpris comment la technique est efficace, tant pour votre capacité à comprendre la situation et pour la participation de votre homologue dans ce que vous espérez atteindre.

Terms of use / Mentions légales

Comments

  1. Great advice, Lee, and not just for negotiating or for making an argument in court. Also great advice for dealing with people in “real” life. Too often we are too quick to cut people off in mid sentence to get our own point across. I have been involved in too many negotiations, more so of late (is this becoming more of an issue?) where people seem to be overly impatient to be heard. The old adage that we were given 2 ears and 1 mouth for obvious reasons still holds true in my opinion. Thanks again for the post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s