David Disraeli's Layman's Legal Guide

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Pomp, Posturing and Intimidation by David Disraeli

More than 90% of lawsuits which are filed are settled outside the courtroom.  The cost of going to court and sitting through an entire trial is high and the outcome is ALWAYS uncertain.  Every single dispute I have witnessed has had the same pattern.  In each case, the attorneys and clients on both sides insist they are right, that they are not going to budge, that they’ll win, and the other side hasn’t got one valid point in their favor.  If you know anything about math, you can tell this isn’t right.  They can’t both be right.  Sometimes, people file lawsuits to go through the discovery process (the procedure to collect information or evidence), other times they sue because every other attempt at resolution failed.  Once a trial date is set, parties magically decide that it may be better to settle the dispute, even if they feel they are in the right due to the costs and risks of litigation.  It is funny to watch the tone go from “this isn’t negotiable” to “what’s is going to take for this thing to go away?”

Posturing pomp, intimidation and bluffing are all an art form.  They are skills which are learned, developed and honed by attorneys and really – any good negotiator.  Making someone back down without having to go to court is a good thing.  What if you could do it without even hiring a lawyer?  It doesn’t work all the time, but is sure works often.

Posturing is the art of making another party see you or your position differently than it really is.  For example, the landlady says she has three other people scheduled to see the property later in the day.  Whether its true or not, or whether they show up or not, in your mind they are all going to show up, fall in love and sign the papers.  Now pomp is altogether different.  Pomp is the method in which you posture.  Pomp and posture send a very strong message if they are congruent – meaning for this to work, you cannot send mixed signals.  If you believe in your position you must show it, act like it, use the right body language.  I have watched a skilled trial lawyer sit with a straight face while his client was being destroyed by the other attorney.  What’s amazing is that his unshakable-ness made me doubt my perception of the beating his client was taking. That’s pomp.  Posturing is the way he characterized his side and the other side.   Intimidation is the art of using pomp and posturing to get the other party to behave a certain way.  If you can get the other side to take less, drop the case, or change their position then you have used your leverage.  Intimidation is using fear to influence.  Fear of losing, fear of things getting out of control, fear that they may not have all the facts, that someone may have lied to them.  If you can place doubt – that’s one source of leverage.  If you add a persuasive argument and some facts, you have more leverage.  He with the most leverage wins.  If you are caught red-handed stealing money from a bank, get caught inside the bank, and have a history of similar crimes, the D.A.’s office has leverage.

Bluffing is the art of making someone think that you believe something that is not true.  For example, you could tell a car dealer that you know the invoice amount and are going to shop for dealers until one sells you the car at that price.  Whether you have all the facts straight or not you are trying to convince someone else that you do.