The Case for Kindness

Juror Only Sign

As a motivational speaker focusing on communication, my early work was with trial lawyers. I helped them communicate more effectively in the high stakes environment of the courtroom. So when I saw a report on a recent trial, it made me stop and think.

Insider information from someone overseeing the jurors’ deliberations in the aforementioned trial: Apparently the jurors were NOT happy about the fact that the attorneys for the prosecution never said “good morning” to them each day, but the defense lawyers always did.

What? Which lawyers said “good morning” to them actually became a topic of conversation?

Apparently it did. And that makes us wonder – is it even possible that the “perceived” unkindness of the prosecution factored in ANY way whatsoever with the jurors’ verdict? We would all hope not. But I feel fairly certain that if they indeed DID perceive the prosecution team to be unkind – they would have been wrong. But does it actually matter that they would have been wrong?

Consider these three communication principles:

  1. Everything you do or say, and how you do or say it (including what you do NOT say or do) communicates something
  2. The meaning of any piece of communication lies only in what the receiver PERCEIVES it to mean
  3. The receiver of the communication RESPONDS in a manner consistent with that perception  

All this tells me that perhaps one of our greatest tasks in life is to be able to effectively manage other people’s perceptions of us.

So I’m curious – when was the last time someone thought YOU weren’t being kind? I’ll bet they were wrong, weren’t they?

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A Smiling Linda Larsen

About Author Linda Larsen, CSP, CPAE

I became a professional actress and – for actual money – I got to occasionally escape to magical worlds created by everyone from Shakespeare to Moliere; from Shaw to Simon. I became a member of Actor’s Equity Association and the Screen Actors Guild and, as such, joined the ranks of hundreds of thousands of mostly unemployed starving actors. But I didn’t care! I was an actor!!! I had an actual Master of Fine Arts Degree that PROVED, by gosh, that I was supposed to know what I was doing.

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