Where there is smoke …


491
491 points

(U.S. Forest Service photo by Mike Macmillan)

Have you ever lived in an old ashtray? heater? This is what it is now up and down the West Coast. If you have travel plans to go this way in the near future, change it. Do not come. We haven’t seen blue skies, at least here in California, for over a week. We have the worst smog in nearly three decades. Friends who can escape do so, to Wyoming or Utah or places further to the east. Look at the air quality in San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and Vancouver.

But we Western coasters are not the only ones who suffer now. Just say the names “Laura” and “Sally” and those who live in the southeastern United States understand it, literally. I am not about to discuss climate change. I will simply say “Res ipsa loquitur”.

We lawyers hate a vacuum. Maybe that is why we rush to fill the silence, and we think that silence must be bad. If an agent takes a minute or so to answer a question, we usually note on the record that it took 60 seconds or so to answer the question at hand. The result is that the reviewer was procrastinating, trying to find a better answer or simply dodging before answering. We all learned in the Evidence Class about silence in the face of my accusation statement, so we are eagerly awaiting an answer, and that rushing to an answer isn’t necessarily a good idea.

Hesitation can equal elusiveness in our world. I don’t think it should. Thoughtful answers and responsive answers to a question don’t necessarily come out of a person’s mouth right away. I think he’s like a driver who, as soon as the light turns green, sets the horn, as if a few seconds makes any difference. (I laugh when that driver in a hurry, usually a cocoon in an expensive car, has to stop at the same light I do. Turtle vs. HareJust another example of adversarial concepts that we, as lawyers, seem to succeed in, or if not, we tolerate it, as if we had no choice.)

A recent article in Inc. Both Tim Cook and Jeff Bezos “accept Embarrassing silence rule. “The article says the rule has always been valuable but today, in a world where everything is“ at the right time, ”“ I want it now, ”“ What takes so long? ”This rule has become more valuable.

So, what exactly is this rule? The article’s author, Justin Pariso, says it’s simple: When you are faced with a difficult question, instead of answering, you pause and think deeply about how you want to answer it. This is not a short pause. Instead, it involves taking more than several seconds (10 or 20 or more) to think about things before responding.

“No short pause?” Excuse me. How many lawyers have the patience to wait for an answer without thinking of something outrageous happening, of us suspicious minds? Not much, I’m afraid. It is a response that lawyers are looking for, not necessarily the thoughtful response that answers the question. Bariso says the base is valuable as a tool for emotional intelligence, a balance between thought and emotion, rather than just a response. Much of what happens in sedimentation is a reaction. Reviewers usually have other things to do, and they just want to get rid of the warehouse.

So, the “awkward silence rule” is the opposite of instant gratification. Work with me here. The past six months have shown the limits of instant gratification. Toilet wipes? tissues? Tissue paper? Have we stopped hoarding yet? There are many psychological experiments about instant gratification, and the 1972 Marshmallow is perhaps the best known. Recent research has revealed that babies do Better in testing When they cooperate. field? What an understanding. I wish lawyers would do this more often.

Instant communication has been the watchword for our world. E-mails, faxes, and the like should be answered Immediately. Don’t think, just respond. A young lawyer feels she must respond to emails right Now. No, she does not, especially when the response promptly leads to a dispute with the opposing attorney. Fun, isn’t it? not much. Whatever happened to the time to respond? How about typing something and waiting for some time before pressing send? Whatever happened to the time? Where did it go and what did we do with it?

Yes, the rule of strange silence … awkward, until you get used to it. Spending the time framing the answer and responding in a way that makes clear what your answer is, without ambiguity, is a good thing. We are so uncomfortable with silence that we get fidgety about it. We check our multi-tasking phones, because thinking quiet and waiting makes us crazy. The concept of strangling ourselves is something we didn’t learn in law school. Commenting on how long it takes an agent to answer a question may be counter-productive.

Bariso lists many of the reasons a rule is useful: It makes you think critically and not just say the first thing that comes to mind. Spending time before answering may mean more in-depth answers (this assumes the answer is not simply “yes, no, or I don’t know”).

More time can make the answer more confident and assertive. Take the time to think before responding to a client, opposing attorney, or anyone. What is impulsivity? Will another minute make a difference in this epidemic and smoke world? I do not think so.


Jill Switzer has been an active member of the California State Bar for more than 40 years. Remember to practice law at a gentler and gentle time. She had a diverse legal career, including her duties as deputy attorney general, one-on-one practice, and several indoor senior parties. It’s now a full-time mediator, which gives her the opportunity to see dinosaurs, millennials, and those in the middle interact – it’s not always civilized. You can reach them via email at oldladylawyer@gmail.com.


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