The Los Angeles chapter of the Legal Marketing Association (LMA) hosted a recent presentation by Andrew Elowitt titled “It’s Not Magic, It’s Persuasion: Getting Buy-Ins for Your Ideas.” Elowitt, a professional facilitator and partner at Threshold Advisors, offered a number of valuable tips regarding the most effective way to make sure your ideas and suggestions are heard rather than dismissed out of hand. Here are some of my biggest takeaways from his talk:
- First – and this is a big one – never argue with a lawyer! Attorneys argue for a living; it’s what they do, and they’re good at it. If you’re trying to make your case, never challenge them in their sweet spot by starting a verbal tug-of-war. You’re never going to win.
- Rather than approaching the conversation as a combatant, Mr. Elowitt suggests coming at it from a place of curiosity. Make it your mission to find out the other person’s story. Ask them why they think the way they do, or how they arrived at a particular conclusion. This helps create conversation, not conflict.
- Establish your own credibility by providing current, exclusive and/or specialized information. Use emotionally compelling examples, and use social proof whenever possible by pointing out who else is doing what you suggest – an especially effective tool if you can point to an esteemed veteran.
- Finally, pick your battles. Know when and where to persuade, and learn to identify the players in any given situation: Who will be open to your idea? Who will be opposed to it? Who may not be wild about it, but can learn to live with it?
Lawyers are intelligent and perceptive, but they also tend to be risk-averse, skeptical and analytical. If you need to convince one of the validity of your viewpoint, these tips could certainly help make your life a little easier.