Friday, December 17, 2010

Tell a Story !

I was reminded at a recent mediation that telling a story is always better than reciting the facts.  And, people will listen to a story - not facts.  I was in a litigated case mediation and plaintiff's counsel told what happened and went through the medical history, all of which is needed; however, it was more a recitation and not a story to be told.  Who was the claimant?  How had the injury affected them on both the personal and claim level?  Was there anything compelling that would help tip a decision maker to your viewpoint?   These were the items longed to hear, but did not.  I did a quick summary and counsel did let their client talk and this was helpful to get some sense of them and to hear their concerns. Plaintiff spoke with strong emotion about their injuries. I thanked them for their comments and then asked for input from opposing counsel before asking any follow up questions (I like to hold my questions until everyone has had a chance to talk.).

Then opposing counsel began what I'll call an "opposing" recitation that sought to refute various facts and medical care issues.  It was an equally dry response and did not connect or reach the Plaintiff.  Many experienced counsel do an excellent job of weaving a story on either side of a case. There are many defense counsel who can both genuinely apologize for someone being hurt and present an opposing legal argument.  They connect with people and people listen to them.  They don't always agree, but they listen. 

So next time you are representing someone in mediation, tell a story!