NLP CONCEPTS FOR TRIAL LAWYERS

Neuro Linguistic Programing (NLP) is the study of a way of thinking, language and behavior. “Neuro” refers to the way you filter and process your experiences through your senses. “Linguistic” refers to the way you interpret your experiences through language.”Programming” refers to the way you code your language and behavior into your own personal actions and thinking.

One of the concepts in NLP is that of perspective. That is putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes. There are three primary positions in NLP: the first position, the second position and the third position.

The first position is seeing, hearing and feeling the situation through your own eyes, ears and emotions. It is thinking in terms of what is important to you, how you are feeling at  the  moment. It is experiencing the situation as you, in your own shoes. It involves getting in touch with your own feelings as well as asking questions such as: what do I really want? or why and I feeling this way ?

The second position is stepping into the shoes of the other person and experiencing the situation as if you are them. This means really being the other person and and being in the other person’s shoes. Sensing their emotions and what is important to them as well as what they are feeling. The ability to do this will give you a greater understanding about how to deal with the situation .

The third position is stepping back from what is happening and experiencing it as if you were a detached observer. it It involves seeing and hearing you and other person is if you were a fly on the wall. This is important since this position is detaching yourself from the emotions  involved and looking at it more objectively.

Your ability to view what is happening from different positions gives you a view point which will improve your chance of handling what ever is going on in a better way. In court, the ability to view the situation from the judges perspective or the witnesses perspective or the juries perspective is essential  to being a good trial lawyer. It is a way of removing yourself from the emotions involved. It is a useful way of looking at things  when you need to be able to think in a more detached and objective way about what is going on. It is a way of getting in touch with your own feelings and desires which will enhance your ability  to make right choices.

Take the example of cross  examination. At the Spence Trial College students are taught about a different way of cross examining, the “soft” cross examination. Instead of hammering  at  the witness, the examiner insteads tries to see  things from the witnesses perspective. Why are they motivated to say what they are saying? A medical expert who always testifies for the defendant may have gone to medical school with the objective of helping  people get well, but over time the goal became earning a fee for testimony expected by the insurance company or defense lawyer. Exploring  the reasons behind the  testimony often is more powerful for  the cross examiner than attacking the testimony.  That requires putting yourself  in the witnesses shoes and thinking it out. Likewise, it  is essential that trial lawyers continually put themselves in the  jury box and view  the trial as if  they were a juror. Is this clear and understanable? Are they bored and if so what can I do about it? What are they thinking right now?

The skill of really examining your own feelings and why you feel that way as well as the ability to mentally transfer yourself into someone else’s shoes is an essential skill for great trial lawyers. Practice it.

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