Jurors in the Age of Google

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Hello my Blog Colleagues—

I’m off to Hawaii (yes – I hear the groans from you snow-bounders). But I’m really off to work! The Federal Bar Council, made up of appellate and federal judges and the lawyers empowered to appear before them, is meeting to discuss a very serious new issue appearing in our trial court.

The name of the program is Jurors in the Age of Google…

And the problem? Jurors, who are required by law to make decisions based only on the evidence they see and hear in court, are now going home and googling everything about the trial they’re sitting and judging! Checking out the backgrounds of lawyers, the witnesses, the information, the technical or medical evidence and so on. And since they do this in secret, how are we now to handle this? What can now constitute a fair trial? Will the courts make accommodations for this phenomenon? Pass new laws?

My role is to help the assembled members understand what happened to communication and how TV, computers and the Internet have drastically changed us.

I’ll discuss the origins and effects of these changes and the new demands we all make now about how we learn- let alone listen- or don’t. And then to explain the Generation Gaps and how these very different groups process, accept or reject information and what that’s based on.

Then I’ll present some new skills and new approaches to help lawyers and judges reach jurors more effectively.

When I return I’ll tell you all about what happened at this exciting meeting and what was decided that can affect us all…

Handling Tough Situations or The Art of Compromise

Now that you know about my blog and will be tuning in (often, I hope) I’d like to write from another aspect of what I care about— connecting with others personally, and making it work in today’s emailing non-talking world.

So here are some ideas about handling tough situations face-to-face… Might be a little long-winded but it has lotsa really good approaches. Check it out. They can really help…

Who doesn’t ever need to make compromises in their lives? Whether it’s little ones like where we go for dinner or big ones like changes in your workplace, how you do your job or negotiating deals, there’s an art to getting what you want, compromising and doing it with some grace and style.

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The key to handling difficult situations successfully—ones that need some giving and bending– is this: learn to think through not only what your goals and needs are but concentrate on what the other person’s issues and targets are. Aim for “How can both of us come out with wins instead of ending with ‘I win, you lose’ “. This not only gets you to a solution quicker; it guarantees you a solution that will stick, with both sides feeling good about the end product.

Here are some basic approaches that can get you there:

  • Begin with a question. Define the issue before you start attacking what may not be the basic problem. Question with real interest in the answer. It helps de-fuse situations that can become accusatory and adversarial. Everyone needs to feel they’re being heard.
  • See and hear the problem from both points of view before you go off with your version and your solution. You’ll be surprised to hear a very different version of what you thought the issues were. Gives you a much truer focus for a solution
  • Engage the other person in arriving at a solution, rather than just giving the solution yourself. Asking for his/her solution gives you a chance to hear that person’s goals and needs right away. That gives you a chance to see where yours and his/hers fit.
  • Explain the situation using “I” not “You”.I must not have explained that well”  instead of “You got that part all wrong”. Instead of accusing, you’ll keep the dialogue going.
  • Present and explain your side without making eye contact! Placethe issue figurativelyon a table between you— talk about that down there. Eye contact is too hot- creates defensiveness, not hearing and understanding.
  • Edit what you say. Get to the point first, then add a few details as examples. We all talk too much at the start and the main point is lost. Refer to what the other person already knows before adding your point of view.
  • Add another question if you feel you’re losing attention. Problems only get solved in a dialogue, not a monologue.
  • Respect the other’s position. Lighten the atmosphere with a smile, give some respect for the other’s passion and point of view, show a positive attitude toward a solution– goes a long way.

Bottom Line: It always takes two to tango. Both must stay actively involved in order for anything to work out well between folks.