Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Don’t Bust Your Credibility with Unconscious Mannerisms!

Every second you are in the courtroom, jurors are looking at you, judging you, spontaneously coming to conclusions about your competence and credibility based solely on their in-the-moment perceptions.

Because jurors have no way of knowing you through the usual means – conversation, time spent in a mutually pleasing activity (sitting on a jury does not qualify!) – their conclusions about you are based on stereotypical ideas.

For example, when you’re innocently jiggling change in your pocket, a common but unfortunate male habit, or fussing with your hair, a habit shared by both sexes, such mannerisms, innocuous as they are to you, may readily be interpreted as evidence of “nervousness.” Nervousness, in turn, is equated with incompetence, as are certain facial expressions, such as frowning or frequent pursing of the lips.

Arrogance is too easily read in one’s “steepling” of the hands (hands held in upright prayer position, with the finger tips touching, palms usually a few inches apart), or if your head is tilted a bit back so that your chin is slightly elevated.

Slumped shoulders, head tilted down, getting up slowly and plopping down with a thud into your chair are all read as “not-doing-so-well” which then slides into “loser” all too quickly.

Arms crossed over your chest bespeak defensiveness or hostility. Hands on your hips may appear overly aggressive and demanding.

It may seem like a lot to think of, while your primary focus must be on the case itself, yet credibility and competence can be reduced to a few simple guidelines:
            1. keep your hands off your person
            2. stand or sit up straight
            3. keep your mannerisms in check.

Easy enough! And with credibility intact, you’re much better positioned to win your case.

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