Author Archives: Paul Luvera

SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT MOTIVATION & SUCCESS

In sorting through my files to organize and to decide what goes to recycle I’ve selected some things I’ve saved over the years to share with you.  I’ve spent a lot of years reading material in the area of advertising, sales and human psychology. Industry has spent millions studying marketing, advertising  and decision making with much of  it available to us as trial lawyers. We are in the profession of persuasion for others and the material can be helpful. Here are a few examples to think about.

In 1985 Kay Porter and Judy Foster wrote a book The mental Athlete: Inner Training for Peak Performance (Wm C. Brown Publishers). They interviewed champions and applied their background in human behavior development to reach conclusions. They include some of the following:

  • Champions believe totally in themselves and in their talents
  • Their concentration and focus during competition is absolute
  • They employ the techniques of visualization for weeks before an event
  • They analyze loses carefully to refine technique, improve strategy and boost performance  levels
  • They put defeat behind them quickly and look forward to new challenges
  • Even  when losing, they never see themselves as losers
  • They always have goals

Brian Tracy was a well known writer and speaker on motivation and success. One of his presentations was about the techniques of self-made millionaires. His points included these:

  • Dream big dreams
  • Set clear goals
  • Do one thing at a time
  • Be honest with yourself and others
  • Be persistent 

In 1991 a magazine interviewed a number of elderly people and asked them for advice about life. One man, William Van Hooser, replied “Life’s a dance. Take it one step at a time and keep listening for the music.”

Helen Collier led a training firm in New York about how to communicate and how to reach goals. Here are some of her ideas:

  • Have a definite purpose . You need a clear cut plan for achieving your objectives
  • Believe in yourself.
  • Go the extra mile.
  • Speak clearly. You’ll be more convincing if you do.
  • Look the part. Dress and have the demeanor of a self confident person
  • Be enthusiastic

For many years Tom Lambert was the editor and heart of the American Trial Lawyers Association. His columns Tom on Tort were always inspirational. In one column he wrote about the role of the plaintiff’s trial lawyer:

“You cannot choose your battlefield. The Gods do that for you.  But you can plant a standard where a standard never flew”

Here are some quotes I have always liked:

  • “An appeaser is one who feeds the crocodile, hoping that it will eat him last.” Winston Churchill
  • “He was like the cock who thought the sun had risen to hear himself crow.” unknown
  • “If you want a friend in Washington, go buy a dog.” Harry Truman
  • “if an ocean liner could think and feel, it would never leave its dock. It would be afraid of the thousands of huge waves  it would encounter. It would fear all of the dangers at once – even though it had to meet them only one wave at a time.” Unknown
  • “You never know how a horse will pull until you hook him to a heavy load”  Paul “Bear” Bryant

Lee Ann Womack has sung some songs with truly wonderful lyrics. Here are some from the song Something Worth Leaving Behind:

I’ll probably never hold a brush that paints a masterpiece. Probably never find a pen that writes a symphony. But if I will love then I will find that I have touched another life and that something, something worth leaving behind.”

And Jimmy Buffet has many songs with lyrics worth studying. Here’s one from Cowboy in the Jungle:

“Roll with the punches, Play all his hunches. make the best of whatever came his way. What he lacked in ambition, he made up with intuition. Plowing straight ahead come what may.”

I read Roger Rosenblatt’s advise daily as reminder of the wisdom of these things he wrote:

  • Nobody is thinking about you. They are too busy thinking about themselves
  • Ignore your enemy or kill him. The idea is not to care –  not pretend but to really not care.
  • After the age of 30 it is unseemly  to blame your parents for one’s life.
  • A swine is always a swine. Yes, there may be a bad person who changes once in a great while, but on the whole accept the fact a swine will always  act like a swine
  • Envy  no one – ever
  • Live in the past, but do’t remember too much.
  • To thine own self be true (unless you need to change)

A golf pro was interviewed about golfing. His advice included the following:

  • You can only play one hole at a time. Keep your mind on that hole. don’t worry about the shot you just missed or the next one.

Lastly, there was a study of  what motivated the  average juror which was done some time ago, but it seems to me the principles haven’t changed. I have employed these thoughts in every jury argument I have made. Here is the list of powerful motivators for most people:

  1. Everyone wants to feel like they did the right thing under the circumstances.
  2. Everyone  wants to  achieve things  they can be proud about.
  3. Everyone wants to belong to a group that achieved something extraordinary
  4. Everyone wants respect and recognition for what they have achieved.

So, that’s enough for this writing. Maybe there is something here that you find helpful or inspiring. I hope so.

SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT GOOD COMMUNICATION

Good clear communication involves a great deal of factors. Here is a refresher of ten primary rules of high-quality communication.

  1. It has been said that the eyes are the windows to a person’s soul. When we like things, our pupils dilate. When we dislike things, our pupils contract. Eye contact is one of the most important parts, if not the most essential, part of communication. In ordinary conversation it’s been determined that we maintain eye contact about 50% of the time while we are speaking and about 80% of the time when we are listening. If we are attempting to dominate the conversation or the individual we maintain eye contact 100% of the time. Jurors determine if we are listening to them on the basis off whether we maintain eye contact with them while they are speaking. We share, during trial, with the jury by involving them with eye contact. We show by eye contact that we are always aware of them and their  involvement in the case. They are made part of our  team through eye contact.
  2. Every person has  zones of social space that have psychological importance. These include public, social and  personal space zones. The space zones vary from culture to culture. Someone in Great Britain probably has a larger zone of privacy than someone in Mediterranean countries. The person from London expects you to stay further away than the Spaniard in our normal conversations.  This zone, in which we allow our closest friends people and those close to us, is up close at 1 to 3 feet.The social zone includes people we shake hands with and are carrying on conversations. It is generally 3 to 4 feet. The public zone for strangers is around 4 feet.This fact is important when considering where to place yourself in relationship to jurors and with respect to witnesses. When first dealing with juries a distance of 10 to 12 feet is probably advisable at least until the jury has become comfortable with you. Putting material on the jury rail and leaning over the jury while talking to them  is obviously offensive unless there are special circumstances which would permit it. On the other  hand, avoid using a  podium in trial if you can because it is a barrier to personal connections. Being conscious of these zones is important in communication.
  3. Image and impression are of great importance in most affairs of life but especially in trials. Trial is a battle of impression and not one of intellect. Small things enter into an impression we create of someone else. For example before the advent of I-iPads and  digital equipment court, I always used a pencil to take notes in the courtroom instead of an expensive pen or even a ballpoint pen. I wanted to show I was an ordinary person like they were. We all know the importance of first impressions. However, first impressions are long-lasting and will influence future perceptions about the individual. As a general rule conservative and professional images should be maintained with neutral clothes with  moderate hairstyles and lack of jewelry.It is not surprising that research shows jurors increased their identification and liking of both client and attorney who project and appealing image to them and vice versa.
  4. Max Lusher was a famous Swiss psychologist who studies involved color psychology and have been employed around the world. He found that each color had the same psychological effect on people generally. Colors had a direct effect on the on the anatomic nervous system. In general dark colors, blue and green,  slow down our heart as well as lower your blood pressure. Lighter colors have the opposite effect. The four primary colors are a basic primitive part of the brain’s evolutionary development. They are important in visual presentations.  Lusher found that the color red promoted activity and excitement. Yellow is the most active, free and liberating color. Blue i calm and orderly activity. Green is a darker calming color  but has more rigidity and less compromise than blue. People who prefer green tend to be independent. Colors have been shown by research to be important in visual presentations. Advertisers and human factors experts know that colors like yellow, black and red when used in signs correctly have a significantly different impact than other colors.
  5. Americans of today are the most visually oriented people in our history. They tend to rely more on what they see rather than what they hear. Since trials are visually  oriented visual aids should be utilized whenever possible. The use of video, PowerPoint, pictures and other visual exhibits are the  essential parts of every trial.
  6. Opening statements for most jurors should be organized around three main issues which you want the jury to remember throughout trial. We know that after 20 minutes memory recall drops significantly. Television has used this fact for years in deciding when to insert commercials during a program. The first 20 to 30 minutes therefore are essential learning periods that should not be wasted.
  7. We have known about the principles of  primacy and recency for years. Primacy means that the facts we hear first will tend to influence our interpretation of future facts. Recency means of facts we hear last are remembered the best. When we organize our case around three key points and talk about them both at the beginning of our opening statement and at the end we have used principles of  good psychology. Referencing them throughout the trial and repeating again and argument satisfies the rule of recency.
  8. Some of the basics of an opening statement are: (1) speak plain English (2) be brief and concise (3) summarize the main ideas  and (4) Under state rather than overstate your case.
  9. Remember that a person’s demeanor typically represents at least 60% of the total message communicated to others. When the verbal message is in conflict with the message given by demeanor credibility is greatly impaired. You must be congruent in both  words and deneanor
  10. If you want to make a favorable impression don’t quarrel with your opponent. The jurors find legal disputes tedious and boring. They tune out and resend. When there is  quarreling between counsel the jury regards it as unprofessional. When opposing counsel objects don’t look at them. When you do you give too much importance to what is being said. Look only at the judge. When you respond do not talk to the other lawyer, only speak to the judge. Make the response professional and not whining.

THOUGHTS ABOUT NEGOTIATION & SETTLEMENT

I have been a fan of Roger Dawson for many years. See:  http://www.rdawson.com I have read most of his books about sales and negotiation. I have attended his lectures. His ideas about communication, persuasion, sales and negotiation make a great deal of sense to me. Dawson was born in England and then became president of one of California’s largest real estate companies. Since 1982 he has been a full-time speaker and writer regarding sales issues. Here is a brief summary of some of his ideas regarding negotiation:

  1. Act dumb, not smart. When you do that it tends to defuse the competitive spirit of negotiation. You also have the advantage of learning more than if you act smarter than the other person.
  2. Always congratulate the other side. When you’re through negotiating always credit the other side with the  winning outcome. You want the other side you feel good about what happened. It avoids after settlement controversy and you are likely to encounter the same person again. You don’t want them in frame of mind where they are looking for a way to pay you back.
  3. Always get the other side to commit first. The reason is that their first offer may be better than you expect. It also gives you information about for you have to tell them anything.
  4. Never say yes to the first offer. For obvious reasons you need to explore the extent to which the other side is willing to go.
  5. Always act shocked at the offer. Good negotiation skills are like playing poker. You do not want to reveal your hand by the way in which react.
  6. Remember the tactic of higher authority. Always have a higher authority in negotiation  that you need to clear with before making a deal. It can be your client, your partner, or someone else, But you need to be able to say that before you can accept an offer you need to clear with someone in a position higher authority in order to be able to have our negotiation. The police have used “good guy – bad guy” tactics in interrogating. It’s a similar psychology where one person is friend and the other is the unreasonable one to ingratiate better attitudes.
  7. Project the reluctant buyer attitude. You will not get the best off when you demonstrate and over eager interest in offers or settlement.
  8. Never offer to split the difference.Splitting the difference doesn’t mean down the middle because you can do that more than once. Encourage the other person split the difference only when it is to your advantage.
  9. Time pressure is important in negotiation. It has been well established that in general 80% of the progress in the negotiation occurs within the last 20% of the time left for negotiation. That’s why you should have inflexible time limitations allowed for negotiation.
  10. Be on guard for nibbling. Nibbling is the tactic of adding terms after the deal has been made. We are most vulnerable when the negotiation appears to be over. We’re feeling good because the pressure and tension of negotiation is over. The defense lawyer waits until that time and says “of course we will want a confidentiality agreement.” That’s nibbling. You think to yourself: “oh no, I don’t want to reopen the negotiation again and risk losing the whole deal we just made.” So, you give in. Big mistake. guard against nibbling.