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Cialdini’s Principle of Persuasion: Liking — Part 3

Alex Brown
By: Alex Brown

Opening, Jury Consultants, Litigation Consulting, Mock Trial

Dr. Robert Cialdini has identified six basic principles of persuasion. One of them is liking. If people like you, they are more likely to say yes. Why is that important to a litigator? Quite simply, any litigator wants to persuade a jury, judge or other adjudicator to agree with her, and if the adjudicator likes her, she is more likely to win her case.

 The key to getting someone to like you is to remember that it’s not just a momentary feeling but a sum of everything that the person thinks about you – and that the feeling is not permanent, but you can at any time do something to improve or to detract from the person’s feeling about you. As a litigator, you are always one misstep from losing the audience.  Here are ten things you can do as a litigator that will make you more likable:

  1. Focus on how you are perceived. In 2015 Jimmy Fallon put U2 in disguise and had them play at the 42nd subway stop in New York City. Even with cameras around, and the odd fact that the lead singer sounded just like Bono, they were largely ignored. Jimmy then framed the band (again in disguise) as a local band wanting support. Suddenly, once it was known they are U2, everyone went crazy. The most remarkable part was seeing an adolescent looking at them when in disguise as if he is waiting for a car crash, but the next time you see him, after the reveal, he is dancing and completely loving what he is hearing. They music did not change, just the framing. How you appear to your audience will set the stage for how they react and their willingness to give you the benefit of the doubt. See also, Like It or Not: Likability Counts for Credibility in the Courtroom.

  2. Ask questions. It is human nature to be helpful, and we all have the desire to share what we know. When someone appears to need our help, we tend to like them more because we are the ones providing answers. Just remember HOW you ask them is crucial.

  3. Talk more, not less. But when you are talking, make sure you are talking about the audience and your opponent, not about yourself. The key to more is in the details. Don’t talk just to hear yourself; give them more details so you can see the lightbulbs going off in your audience. See also, 3 Articles Discussing What Jurors Really Think About You.

  4. Give your time (operative word is give, not charge).

  5. Incorporate people’s questions and visual cues into your answers. It brings the audience closer, which is one more step toward liking.

  6. You can’t teach yourself to care, but you can train yourself to focus on your audience in everything you do in court. If your focus is on someone other than yourself, it will show, and gain you a trust factor.

  7. Smile and make them smile. A pleasant disposition makes you more approachable; thus they will be more willing to listen.

  8. Lighten up. You are the storyteller, you are setting the mood. Remember that audiences will join you on this journey, or they will fight you. You will always attract more flies with honey.

  9. Know the difference between assertive and controlling. People are drawn to strength but immediately shy away from dictators. Find the line and follow it.

  10. Admit that you do not have all the answers. Everyone tries to discredit the know-it-all. Don’t be the know-it-all. You can show vulnerability and not be incompetent. Find the line; make your job easier by making it easier for them to side with you.

It is always best to get an outside point of view. Role play, use mock juries. A craft is not honed without practice. Here are parts 1 and part 2 of this series.

Here are more than 80 articles and free downloadable books on A2L Consulting's site related to how juries think and behave:

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