Lawyers need to have the best words in the room. The use of the exact right word enhances our persuasive capacity. We, at our best, are outstanding communicators – capable of conveying our precise meaning so that it is received by the listener or reader exactly how we want them to receive it, and hence persuading them to our way of thinking.
Mark Twain famously said, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. It is the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”
Many young lawyers use sloppy or equivocal language because they are afraid: they are afraid that their argument is not good enough, or even wrong; they are afraid that what they are trying to say will evoke a negative response in their listener or reader, or even frighten their listener or reader away. They hope that by being vague, somehow the listener or reader will “stumble” upon the lawyer’s point and pick it up, making the lawyer’s job easier. This is timid thinking, guaranteed to weaken your advocacy.
Great lawyers commit to their arguments. Great lawyers are willing to engage and fight for their point of view, even if the majority viewpoint has, up to now, been different, indifferent, or even hostile.
If you’re going to be an advocate, commit to it; do it well. Guard yourself against sloppy language, language that “wobbles,” that is capable of being understood in a variety of ways depending upon the listener’s or reader’s viewpoint or experience. Have the courage of your convictions. Use the right word, not the “almost right word,” as Mark Twain says.
Finding and choosing the right word or words is hard work and takes time. Go ahead and take the time, and you will see how much more potent your advocacy is.
We are here to help you when you need to find the right words. Contact us at any time!