Effective Communication Skills Jill Tolles, M.A. Special Court Jurisdiction June 7, 2013 www.jilltolles.com. “Bench Communication” Observations. What are the greatest c hallenges or mistakes you have observed judges make? What are the most effective strategies you have observed?
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Effective Communication SkillsJill Tolles, M.A. Special Court Jurisdiction June 7, 2013 www.jilltolles.com
“Bench Communication” Observations • What are the greatest challenges or mistakes you have observed judges make? • What are the most effective strategies you have observed? • Presenting from the bench • Managing the courtroom
“I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” • Alan Greenspan
Why Communication Matters • Perceptions • JPE’s • Re-election • Appeals
Agenda • Verbal Communication • Nonverbal Communication • Listening
Communication Goals • Clarity • Comprehension • Appropriateness • Firm but Fair • Know your Role (and stick with it) • The “Goldilocks Principle”
Material • Keep it Simple and Concrete • Use the active voice (I, You v. “One”) • Avoid “Legalese” • Define Terms • Avoid Acronyms
Organization • Introduction • Opener • Credibility and Goodwill (“Firm but Fair”) • Body • “Courtroom Expectations” • “Overview of Process” • “Ruling and Explanation” • Conclusion • Summary and Questions
Mental Maps and Signposts • “The first thing I need to find out is whether this court has jurisdiction (that is, the right to decide this case. • Then I need to find whether the financial situation of the parent who does not have custody has changed, and if it has, • I need to decide what change in monthly support would be appropriate.” (Adapted from Albrecht, et al, p. 46) • Repeat and Summarize Often
Application • What areas of verbal communication are your greatest challenges? • What three aspects of effective verbal communication can you implement?
Self-Test in Judicial Communication Answer with “T” or “F” the 10 questions.
Question #1 • Nonverbal facial cues—especially eye contact—are generally unreliable indicators that a speaker is lying. • True • “Most liars can fool most people most of the time.” – Paul Ekman, Telling Lies
Best clues for lie detection • Slips of the tongue • Emotional outbursts, tirades • Emblematic slips (inadvertent nonverbal cues) • Micro-expressions (1/4 second emotional flashes
Problem: Detecting lies in the courtroom • The best liars show nonverbal behaviors of the truth-teller • “Anxiety/fear” cues and “deception” cues are very similar • Cues of lying—culture-bound • After telling the same lie often, the liar comes to believe it—and give truth-telling cues
“Liars are most often tripped up by verbal, not nonverbal behavior.” -- Zuckerman & Driver, 1985
Question #2 • Listening training is the quickest, most reliable method for improving listening efficiency. • False • How speakers present information shapes listening faster and better. • Implications for judges and lawyers? How do we get jurors to listen better?
Question #3 • Recent research gives us a fairly reliable “dictionary” of body language cues and what they mean. • False • No “nonverbal dictionary”; meanings are in people—who observe nonverbal behavior and assign meaning. • Implications: Jury experts during voir dire? Witness credibility? Perceived judicial attitudes?
Question #4 • Juvenile offenders with poor verbal skills tend to get heavier sentences than those with more mature, fluent skills. • True • May be other reasons for dispositions, but communication behavior is salient. • Adult defendants: can fluency affect sentencing decisions?
Question #5 • Accurate communication can rarely be achieved in a “one-way” (no feedback) process. • False • Usually achieved with effective verbal messages. • Courtroom communication depends on one-way events.
Question #6 • Jurors do poorly on comprehension tests administered immediately after pattern or uniform instruction on legal terms and principles • True • Rewriting improves comprehension • Hearing and reading improves comprehension
Question #7 • The average adult attention span is about 20 minutes • True . . . Or False • Research in 1970’s – 20 min. • Research in 2000—8 min. • Implications for messages to laypeople? Length of opening statements? Direct examinations? Jury instructions?
Question #8 • After our basic communication styles and skills develop (by about age 25), very few of us are capable of changing them significantly • False • Key word is “capable” • Lawyer to judge? Criminal court to family court? Managing trial vs. settlement conference? • Judges do add skills, change styles
Question #9 • Most judges and lawyers use different language and style when writing than when speaking. • True • Spontaneous oral composition—on the record. • Judge’s written decision vs. transcript of judge’s spoken decision.
Question #10 • The most important factor in one’s ability to interpret accurately the nonverbal messages of others is skill of disciplined observation. • False • Most important: Familiarity (with the person being observed). • Judge observing a stranger vs. judge observing a person he/she knows well.
Listening • Utilize the Thought-Speech Differential • Ask and Solicit Questions • Use Paraphrasing (2-way) • Control Interruptions
The thought Speech Differential • Spare “Brain Space” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pK0BQ9CUHk&feature=fvsr
Ask and Solicit Questions • “Give me a little more information about…” • “Help me understand…” • “Give me an example…”
Paraphrase • “You are required to sign a piece of paper promising the court to do certain things. If you do not keep your promise, the consequences are… Are you clear what you need to do? What is that?”
Control Interruptions • “When you speak, I will be sure that you are not interrupted either.” • “Remember one of the ground rules…” • “I’m going to call for a recess (or continuance) in this case.” • Holding up your hand.
Responding to emotions • Stay Impartial • Stay Calm • Engage and Listen • Express the Desire to Help • Be Firm • Disengage when Necessary
Disengagement and saying “no” • “I’m sorry, but we are simply out of time.” • “I have to leave enough time for other people here in the courtroom.” • “I would like you to talk with the (court staff) person while I move on to the next case.” • “I am going to take a short recess.”
delivery • Eye Contact • Facial Expressions • Voice • Posture • Gestures • Artifacts • Time and Setting
Mock Trial Observations • Model Courtroom (2nd Floor) • Present for maximum of 5 minutes • Recorded (with or without feedback) • Response from peers