The Power of Intolerance
by Elliott Wilcox
Music is powerful.
If I'm running and feeling tired, all I need to do is put on Eye of the Tiger (free download if you have Amazon Prime Music) and I can get a little extra burst of energy to run faster and further than I thought I could. (One of my absolute all-time workout favorites is Sandstorm by Darude, but unfortunately that one's not a freebie).
Why can I run faster and farther when I have a great song pumping in my ears?
It's not voodoo or witchcraft. I already had the energy to do it, it's just that the music triggers an emotional reaction and pushes me a little further.
Music is powerful, and if we can tap into even a little bit of its emotional power in the courtroom, it's worth doing.
The important part is to know what music is going to resonate with your jurors. Not everybody likes the same music, and it's not always easy to gauge which music moves people best.
Take me for example.
I've got SiriusXM in the car, so whenever I'm not listening to practice-specific CLE materials (which is almost all the time... there's SO MUCH good stuff out there!) I'm flipping between the electronic/dance/chill stations and the "music by decades" stations, usually the "80's on 8" channel.
The electronic/dance/chill stations might surprise you. After all, I've got salt and pepper hair (I keep denying that the grey hairs are there, but they are), so it might seem unusual that I'd be listening to music with a 160-180bpm pulse.
But the 80's station shouldn't be a surprise at all, and I'll tell you why in a second.
First, it's because the "80's on 8" station plays only songs from 1980-1989, and there is some great stuff to be found there:
· "Sledgehammer" by Peter Gabriel
· "Hungry Like the Wolf" by Duran Duran
· "She Blinded Me With Science" by Thomas Dolby
(All of the links in this article are to free download links if you have the Amazon Prime music app)
But the real reason why I keep gravitating back to the 1980's music is actually based in science and psychology.
In case you were looking for a new and interesting way to connect with your jurors, you can glean a little extra knowledge about juror psychology by checking out this Huffington Post article, "Here's How Your Taste In Music Evolves As You Age, According To Science."
In the article, they say that for most people, our interest in popular music peaks around age 33. More importantly, "It seems that taste crystalizes around the music one is exposed to from around 16-24 years of age," Dr. Adrian North, who heads the School of Psychology at Curtain University in Australia.
That's why I like the 80's music, and that's why you like whatever generation of music you grew up with.
But what does that mean for you in the courtroom?
It means that if you know your jurors' ages, you can throw in little song snippets to make a subtle emotional connection with them.
It's not going to win the case or make the juror fall in love with you, but anytime you get a chance to make another emotional connection with a juror, you should grab it, and music is one of the easiest ways to spark an emotional reaction.
How old are your jurors?
When did their taste in music probably chrystalize?
What were the most popular songs from that time frame that they would know by heart and instantly recognize?
Knowing these types of things are basics for understanding your jury and being able to conduct a quick "cold read" of each juror. (By the way, if you're looking for a great tutorial on doing quick cold readings like this, there are a few fun references worth checking out. The first is Steve Martin's performance in Leap of Faith, where he plays a con-man traveling faith healer. It's not exactly a tutorial, but it's worth watching. The second is The Full Facts Book Of Cold Reading by Ian Rowland, which will lay out all of the routines you need to become a psychic).
For example, I told you that my favorite genre is 80's music. If your closing centers on a premature decision made by a party (before they had all the facts) and you're trying to convince me that someone should have held back for a second before "rushing to judgment," you could weave in the phrase, "Relax... Don't do it, when you want to go it." (Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood) and I'd make the connection.
Prosecuting a stalking case? An understated, "Every breath you take, every move you make... I'll be watching you" would perk up my ears. (Every Breath You Take by the Police).
(I guess you could also use "Somebody's Watching Me" by Rockwell).
Anyway, you get the point... You can weave in little references gauged to your jurors' musical tastes and enjoy a small emotional connection. You could do the same thing with movie references or pop-culture references, too.
Like I said, it won't win the day, but it may be the little extra bit that you need to make an emotional connection with a juror or to re-grab their attention so they start listening to you again.
To wrap it up, I want to share with you one of the important lessons that you will ever learn in this newsletter.
Strangely enough, I learned it from this guy:
That guy is Ivan Doroschuk, and he was the lead singer of Men Without Hats. They achieved fame and fortune in 1983 when they hit the charts with one of my favorite songs, "The Safety Dance."
Here's the important lesson that they shared:
“We can dance if we want to, we can leave your friends behind...
'cause your friends don't dance, and if they don't dance,
Well, they're no friends of mine.”
I absolutely love that lyric... "cause your friends don't dance and if they don't dance, well they're no friends of mine."
The power of the lyric is that it tells us the importance of being INTOLERANT.
The word "intolerance" usually has a negative connotation to it. If you refuse to put someone on your jury because of their sex or their race or their sexual orientation, you're a bigot, and you deserve to lose every case you try.
That's not the type of intolerance that I'm talking about.
The intolerance that I'm talking about is being completely intolerant of people and things that cripple your productivity, ruin your chances of winning a case, or deprive you of the lifestyle you desire.
You must be intolerant of those things.
If a client demands all of your free time, calls you at odd hours and makes unreasonable demands, you can't accept it. You must be intolerant. You need to either fire the client or change the client's behavior. If you don't, not only will you lose your sanity, but you'll end up doing a sub-standard job for your other clients, too.
(My dad has a great rule: "Never have a client that you can't afford to fire." Never let one client become the sole or majority source of your income, or else you'll be held slave to their whims. More importantly, if they decide to take their business someplace else or if they fall apart, you're dead.)
If a potential juror hijacks the entire conversation and prevents you from conducting an effective voir dire, you can't accept that, either. You must be intolerant, and take back control of the conversation. If you don't, you'll lose the panel and you'll lose the case.
You should be intolerant of injustice, too. That's why we do what we do for a living. We fight injustice. We level the playing field. If we tolerate injustice for even an instant, it creeps into our lives and becomes a permanent part of the fabric of society. We must be constantly vigilant to protect our clients and ourselves from injustice.
Intolerance is not a bad thing. There are things which you MUST NOT ACCEPT.
Poor performance, tardiness, cheating.... Whatever hurts you and your firm, it cannot be tolerated. Don't give an inch on the principles that truly matter to you. Let the world know what you will and will not accept, because surprisingly, it will often give you exactly what you ask for.___________
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