“Win Your Case” Quotes

I recently read “Win Your Case: How To Present, Persuade, and Prevail – Every Place, Every Time” by Gerry Spence. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. If you like them, buy the book.

“Our ability to feel has been supplanted by that tyrant called the intellect. We think. We do not feel. From the time we were children our left brain has become so completely dominant and our native feelings so rejected that we can no longer call upon them to reveal the truth, for the truth is most often a feeling.” (25)

“Logic and reason often become but tools used by those in power to deliver their load of injustice to the people.” (29)

“I tell lawyers that none of us is celver enough to choose the right words, the right vocal intonation, the right rhythms in our speech, the right facial expression, the right hand and body movements, and to choose them simultaneously, word after word, sentence after sentence, unless we are telling the truth as we perceive it, yes, as we feel it.” (31)

“That truth includes the revelation of our feelings. Yes, we care. Yes, we’re afraid. We may be inexperienced. We’re taking risks – risks that we may be rejected, even cast out. But we are open and honest about who we are and what we feel. In the end, our candor and caring cast a dazzling, if humble light on our presentation that leaves all of our shortcomings in forgotten shadows.” (32)

“Owning our feelings. When we stand before a jury or any other decision maker without owning our feelings we hide the most important part of us.” (32)

“Often we don’t have to identify our feelings for the jury – to say, “I feel angry,” or “I feel afraid,” or “I feel lonely” or sad, or confused, or lost. But when we are in touch with our feelings they’ll show through.” (32)

“To move others we must first be moved. To persuade others, we must first be credible. To be credible we must tell the truth, and the truth always beings with our feelings.” (32)

“Spontaneity is the key that unlocks the doors of the listener, because that which is spontaneous is honest and is heard as honest.” (35)

“When we’re tied to our notes, or worse, when we’re frozen in the words of a memorized script, the sounds, the language, the whole dramatic movement is lost.” (35)

“These risks of doing something in the moment are the risks we should take.” (39)

“We are being trained not to hear anything but what the voice of Big Brother (the corporate overlord) wants us to hear. We are being trained not to tune in to ourselves but to tune ourselves out and tune in the programs that Madison Avenue prepares for us, so that we, the New Indians, as it were, will voluntarily give up whatever we have in exchange for the trinkets and beads and booze that the corporate overlord wishes to sell us from the company store. In short, we have become deaf mutes of a kind.” (41)

“Never intentionally set out to frighten an opponent. If we can hold our opponent’s fear to a minimum it will be that much easier to defeat him.” (51)

“But if we turn on the dogs, turn on the fear, concentrate on it and feel it, we’re taken into a different world. Something happens to the dogs when we face the dogs. They being to slink away. Embracing fear we leave fear powerless. Fear becomes afraid of us.” (52)

“The only appropriate method to deal with fear is to own it.” (52)

“Once I understood that simple shift in paradigm from one who gives his permission to be defeated to one who withholds it, everything about me began to change – my voice, my posture, my self-esteem, my confidence, even my walk. One is either prey, victim, sufferer, wounded, loser, and casualty, and is devoured, or one is unconquerable.” (56)

“Changing one’s vision of the self gives birth to a new person. The question is no longer why am I being defeated/ No question is asked. The indomitable self radiates from the person and beams out in a sort of invisible halo of power. It is more than charisma. It is awesome to behold, like a roaring river. It need not take on the thunder of the orator. It is often quiet and easy, but the power is there – a sense that to conquer the person one would have to kill him with an ax.
Things change in the presence of such a person. Doors open. Respect is given as automatically as a smile returns a smile. Possessing such power, the person can be humble, and gentle, and loving, because refusing to give permission to be defeated, a simple, transforming state of mind, no longer requires the false accouterments of power – bravado, arrogance, and conceit. This power which is achieved by retaining what has belonged to us all along – our refusal to give our permission to be defeated – is complete and perfect in itself.” (57)

“It makes little difference how we deal with fear in the courtroom or any other room. Once it is dredged up from the murky, roiling depths and spread out in the sunshine it changes. It becomes something that can be dealt with because we have given ourselves permission to face it, and magically it loses its power. Once we understand that to be afraid is not synonymous with being a coward we can put its power to work for us. It will explode into action, into spontaneity, into emotional muscle, and into the caring and commitment we gather to win.” (59)

“If we understand that anger is most often the product of injury, then don’t we also understand that anger is a secondary emotion – that the hurt, the pain came first, after which anger rushed in to take its place? Indeed, the anger will not diminish until we have relieved ourselves of the hurt.” (61)

“If we understand that anger has been seeded by hurt, is it not more useful to deal with the hurt than with the anger? Our hurt is not threatening to the person who hurt us. But our anger is. Anger begets anger.” (61)

“But if I say to you, “That hurt me,” the response of the other is more likely to be, “I didn’t mean to hurt you, or I wish I hadn’t,” and the war may come to an end.” (61)

“We do not like angry people. But in the same way, we do not trust people who should be angry and who are not.” (63)

“When I walk into the courtroom I see the judge for who he is – an ordinary man with extraordinary power.” (70)

“Every courtroom I enter belongs to me. The judge and the opposing lawyers, indeed, the hostile witnesses, are my guests.” (72)

“The best way to tell the story is always from the inside out. It’s hard to tell our story until we know it – that is, until we’ve felt it – heard it with our third ear, seen it with the eyes of our client, until we have been gripped by it in deep places, and have finally lived it.” (94)

“Why do we need a theme for our case? It usually contains the essence of our story – the quintessential statement that continues to emerge from out of the chaos of words, that redirects us to the cause when the arguments lead to other places and fuzz our focus. The theme speaks of the underlying morality of the case – what is right or what is wrong. It is the final argument in a single phrase.” (95)

“Without a powerful theme we will win no wars, win no cases, sell no products, and advance no causes.” (96)

“The stories that each of us have experienced, although with differing details, are the same in their substance. For every story we hear we inhabit part of that story as our own.” (100)

“Before you can expect people to reveal their feelings, their biases and prejudices, we must first be willing to reveal our own – openly and honestly.” (116)

“Research reveals that something like eighty-five percent of jurors make up their minds in the case by the end of the opening statement.” (128)

“In the courtroom the contest is often simply over the credibility of the lawyers.” (129)

“Often we use the first person in telling the story. A certain power rises up out of a first-person narrative that cannot be duplicated in third-person story telling. And it is easy to move in and out of the first person.” (132)

“We think in pictures – not abstractions.” (146)

“If we know the story inside and out, if we’ve written and rewritten it, outlined it, and, with heroic tenacity, outlined it again, magically we will become spontaneous. We do not deliver a memorized statement. We do not read from notes. We simply have a loaded mind computer with a narrative that includes an outline, a beginning, a middle, and an end, and – trusting the wonders of the mind to now tell the story in an exciting and compelling way – we will give a winning opening statement.” (147)

Liked the quotes? Buy the book here.

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