The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Mark Weber

Corporate counsel

Lawyers telling stories

By Mark Weber June 27, 2017 27 June 2017

Lawyers telling stories

You are always competing for attention when you speak. Whether you are trying to get buy-in for a new legal process, have your say in strategic business decisions or get your child to put on her shoes in the morning, you need the other person to listen—and care about—what you are saying. And the simple truth is that all listeners have a lot of other things on their minds, and many of those things feel more interesting and pressing to them than you.

One of the most effective tools of engagement is one lawyers too seldom employ: good stories. Jonathan Gottschall calls humans the “storytelling animal,” and with good reason. We use story to transmit information in a memorable way and to create social bonds.

The problem? Lawyers do not generally like to think of themselves as storytellers, as if that somehow makes them manipulators or diminishes their importance. However, think of the most memorable presenters you have seen or the best conversations you have had. Such moments almost invariably involve a story. We are wired to listen to, absorb, and, to at least some degree, retain narrative.

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