10 clever psychological tricks used by lawyers to win almost any argument

Ever wonder how lawyers always seem to win arguments?

There’s actually a reason behind it.

They use clever psychological tricks to get their points across and win cases.

It’s not magic or mind-reading, it’s knowing how people think.

In this article, we’re going to share 10 of these tricks that lawyers use.

They can help anyone become better at arguing and getting their point across. 

1. “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall”

One of the simplest yet effective psychological tricks used by lawyers is mirroring.

This involves subtly copying the body language, gestures, and speech patterns of the person they’re interacting with.

When we see someone acting similarly to us, we tend to feel more comfortable and trusting towards them.

It’s a subconscious signal that we’re on the same page.

The next time you’re in an argument or a negotiation, try this trick.

Mimic the other person’s body language subtly – don’t make it too obvious or it’ll backfire.

If they lean back, you lean back; if they use certain phrases often, try to incorporate them into your conversation.

By doing this, you’ll build up a rapport and make them more likely to agree with your point of view.

2. “The Power of Pause”

Ever noticed how some lawyers take dramatic pauses while making their point?

It’s not just for effect.

Pausing at strategic moments can make your argument more compelling. It gives the listener time to absorb what you’ve just said, stir their curiosity, and build anticipation for what you’re about to say next.

In an argument or a debate, don’t rush through your points.

Take your time. After stating a crucial point, pause for a few seconds.

It will draw attention to the importance of the point and make it more memorable.

The silence also gives the other person a moment to process your argument, making them more likely to understand and agree with it.

3. “The Art of Asking Questions”

This is a strategy that I personally love and use quite often.

Lawyers are masters at asking questions.

They don’t just do it to gather information, but also to guide the conversation and make people see things from their perspective.

I remember a time when I was having a heated discussion with a friend about who was the greatest basketball player of all time. He was adamant that it was Michael Jordan, while I was a staunch supporter of LeBron James.

Instead of directly telling him why I thought Lebron was better, which would have probably led to an endless back-and-forth, I started asking questions.

I asked, “Do you think versatility is important in a basketball player?”

He agreed.

Then I asked, “Isn’t it true that LeBron has proven his ability to play at any position on the court?” He conceded to that too.

By asking these questions, I made him see my point without directly imposing my opinion on him.

It’s a powerful tool to guide the flow of the argument and subtly influence the other person’s viewpoint.

4. “Playing With Anchoring Bias”

Anchoring bias is a cognitive bias where an individual depends too heavily on an initial piece of information (known as the “anchor”) to make subsequent judgments during decision making. Lawyers use this trick to their advantage during negotiations or plea bargains.

Did you know that a seller’s initial asking price, even if it’s outrageous, has a significant impact on the negotiation process? It serves as an anchor and influences all subsequent discussions and offers.

Lawyers leverage this by setting a high anchor point—like a high settlement amount—in negotiations.

This sets the stage for the discussion and often leads to a more favorable outcome for their client.

Even if the final outcome is negotiated down, it’s typically closer to the original high anchor point than it would have been otherwise.

5. “Creating an Emotional Connection”

Lawyers understand that to truly persuade someone, logic and facts are not always enough.

Humans are emotional beings, and our feelings often drive our decisions. That’s why a good lawyer strives to create an emotional connection with the jury or the judge.

They narrate their client’s story in a way that tugs at the heartstrings, making it relatable and human. They emphasize the emotional aspect of the case, whether it’s the struggle, the injustice, or the hope for a better future.

People may forget what you said or did, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.

In any argument or negotiation, if you can make the other person feel genuinely understood and empathized with, you’ve already won half the battle.

6. “The Power of Confidence”

I’ve always believed that confidence is key to winning any argument or debate.

Lawyers exude a certain level of confidence that makes their argument seem more credible and convincing. It’s not just about what they say, but how they say it.

I remember a time when I was presenting a project proposal at work.

The stakes were high, and I was up against some strong competition. I knew my proposal was solid, but I also knew that wouldn’t be enough. So, I decided to project as much confidence as possible.

I spoke clearly and directly, maintained eye contact, and stood tall. Even when I was asked tough questions, I didn’t let my confidence waver. I calmly acknowledged the question, thought it through, and responded confidently.

In the end, my proposal was chosen. Many colleagues later told me that my confidence in my proposal made them believe in it too.

7. “Mastering the Poker Face”

No matter how prepared or confident you are, there are going to be moments when you’re thrown off guard.

Something unexpected comes up, a point you hadn’t considered, or a question you don’t have an immediate answer for. It happens to the best of us.

Here’s where lawyers excel – they’ve mastered the art of the poker face.

They don’t let their surprise, confusion, or even doubt show on their face.

They remain composed and in control, even when they’re scrambling for an answer internally.

This isn’t about being dishonest or hiding the truth, it’s about not giving away your hand prematurely.

In an argument, showing that you’re rattled can give the other side an advantage.

They might press harder, thinking they’ve found a weak spot.

8. “The Art of Listening”

This might seem counterintuitive, but one of the most powerful tools in a lawyer’s arsenal is the ability to listen.

And I’ve found this to be incredibly true in my own experiences.

Once, during a disagreement with a close friend, I realized that instead of really hearing her out, I was just waiting for my turn to speak. I was so focused on getting my own points across that I wasn’t considering her perspective.

So, I decided to change tactics. I took a step back and really listened to what she was saying. Instead of thinking about my next counter-argument, I focused on understanding her viewpoint. This not only helped me understand her position better, but it also showed her that I respected her opinion.

Listening is a powerful tool in any argument. It helps you understand the other person’s perspective, find common ground, and formulate more effective responses.

Next time you’re in a disagreement, don’t just wait for your turn to speak. Truly listen, and you might be surprised at how much more effective your arguments become.

9. “It’s Okay to Admit You’re Wrong”

This is a tough one, but it’s crucial. Lawyers are often seen as always needing to be right, but the great ones know when to admit they’re wrong. Nobody’s perfect, and pretending to be can actually harm your credibility.

In an argument, if you realize you’ve made a mistake or that the other person has a valid point, acknowledge it. It’s not a sign of weakness but of strength.

It shows that you value truth over ego and that you’re open-minded enough to consider different perspectives.

And finally…

10. “Keeping the End Goal in Mind”

Lawyers don’t argue for the sake of arguing; they argue to win a case.

They always have their end goal in mind and every argument, every statement, every question is aimed at achieving this goal.

In any argument or debate, it’s easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment and lose sight of what you’re actually trying to achieve.

To avoid this, always keep your end goal in mind. This will help you stay focused and prevent the argument from turning into a pointless back-and-forth.

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Justin Brown

I'm Justin Brown, the founder of Ideapod. I've overseen the evolution of Ideapod from a social network for ideas into a publishing and education platform with millions of monthly readers and multiple products helping people to think critically, see issues clearly and engage with the world responsibly.

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