Persuasion by engagement with the people, place, moment and rhythm
Highly-rated Fairfax County/Northern Virginia criminal/DWI defense attorney pursuing the best defense. Since 1991.
On a recent morning, I saw that one of my least favorite prosecutors was assigned to handle my criminal motion hearing that morning. I was riding high on good vibrations before entering the courtroom, and simply reminded myself that dreading my draw of this prosecutor would only be a distraction to getting what I wanted for my client.
When I entered the courtroom, the prosecutor was talking with the courtroom clerk, and I stood by in my blissful state of happiness until the prosecutor was ready to talk with me. When the prosecutor turned to talk with me, he was in a good mood. I cannot say whether my good mood was contagious, but can say that my good mood meant that the prosecutor would have no negative energy from me with which to feel down, tense up, be defensive, or feel combative.
As a result, the prosecutor and I spoke with each other as if we had started with a clean slate after the several years that we had dealt with each other, not always enjoying each other’s company.
A key part of persuasion involves recognizing and engaging with the surrounding people, place, moment, and rhythm of them all.
My above experience fed off from the good vibes I had the previous morning with another prosecutor whose mood blows hot and cold. I took a cue from how he greeted me, which was his often typical near-monotone apparently used by him to move through his discovery/negotiation conversations, so I gauged my speech pattern from there, not mimicking nor manipulating, but certainly recognizing that a back slapping loud New Yawk-type “Howyadoin, Champ!!!!” kind of greeting (which I avoid anyway) was not going to fly nor set a good stage for negotiations. This is one of the most challenging prosecutors for getting a favorable negotiation in the courthouse. I left the room with a favorable settlement offer that my client jumped at.
This all reminds me of a story told to me by a friend who worked at the Federal Election Commission. One day, he met with a person whose election records were being reviewed. The man was angry and nasty on that first meeting. The next morning after waking up, my friend meditated in his hotel room and arrived at a state of bliss, with no anger nor discomfort towards the man who was angry the day before. Lo and behold, after my friend’s meditating, the once angry man had changed to a non-angry man, probably from the combination of my friend’s not being a distraction to the man’s becoming calmer, because the meditation helped my friend engage better with the man’s rhythm, and because high vibrations can vibrate to and into others to help make them vibrate more highly as well.