When to keep our mouths shut
Inside, am gnashing teeth. Mumbling non-swear words. Like Elmer Fudd aims at Bugs Bunny.
Outside, do nothing. Other than email one word to staff: Lame. Then go about business as if nothing is ticking me off at all.
I could have argued back. Will feel way better if I vent. Way Way Better. But a quick (impassioned) assessment backs me down. This isn't about feeling better. This is about helping the client win.
So I zip my lips. Suppress the urge to immediately fight back. And make a strategic move. That involves silence.
Now, am not saying that we should always keep our mouths shut. But here are examples of when we should at least consider it:
- The judge frowns and says - counsel I will not tell you again, I have made my ruling
- The other lawyer has escalated to the point where their yelling includes the spraying of spittle (there are a few exceptions)
- The witness is furiously chasing you around the conference room trying to "get you" (true story)
- To interject the element of time
The first three should be fairly apparent. Once we push aside the adrenaline.
We want immediate action. If someone throws a punch, we intuitively want to block it and strike back. We don't want to feel the pain of being hit. And we equate losing the battles with losing the war.
Number four is the toughest one. It is amorphous.
Silence does not mean inaction. Silence does not mean being fatalistic. Silence can buy time. And sometimes time is what can change a case result from a loss to a win.