We were doing a trial debrief recently after one of our H2H members didn’t get their verdict.
“We went in, did the principle thing, and we lost.”
But here’s the thing.
There’s a hierarchy of principles.
And that’s what I’m talking about in today’s episode.
The principle that’s going to win will be decided by what your case is about. Is it about a sense of security or a sense of esteem?
Tune in to find out more.
EPISODE 189 TRANSCRIPTION
Welcome. Welcome. Wow, we're almost getting to the end of the year. How are you holding up? Should be a fun time. Not always a fun time.
As I said several podcasts ago in my podcast on depression, this is a sad time of year for many people. In fact, I just found the new suicide hotline. I put it in that podcast, but now it's much easier. I saw someone post this, it's 988. Just those three numbers, 988. And I was looking that up. I was like, new suicide, and you know what Google put in there? Squad. New suicide squad. I'm like, "Ah, I heard this was the most popular thing ever. And that it's scary as fuck." And I just don't watch those kinds of things. I just don't put that stuff in my brain. I had nightmares for two years after watching Scream.
My husband, on the other hand, loves horror movies, watches tons of them in October. And the other day we were laying in bed and he's going to so hate me for this, but he said, "Whenever I get really scared and I'm laying here in the dark, you know what I think about?" And before I was even curious about what he thinks about, I was like, "Wait, what? You lie in bed and you're scared?" And he's like, "Well, yeah, sometimes because of the stuff I watch." I'm like, "Okay, that's why I don't watch that stuff." Anyways. He thinks of our daughter's face. That was the answer to that question.
Thank you also to those of you who responded to last week's podcast on my cancer scare. Somebody pulled over to write me, "Happy Necrosis Day" while they were listening to the podcast in the car. That just made my whole day. And someone else emailed me and said, "Thank you for sending this email and all your other messages," because it was an email about the podcast. "They're inspiring, truthful, and above all else human. I'm sorry to hear about your recent scare. I can say without a doubt, you are much braver than me. Anyway, thanks again for your messages and inspiration. You and your team are making a major difference in many people's lives, including mine."
Oh, I just love that. Thank you so much. And, yeah, here we are talking about "May The Best Principle Win".
So recently, last month or so, in the H2H crew, which is our paid group, we're reopening in January, get on the wait list, someone said that they did everything right. No, that's not what they said. But that was the gist, right? "I went in and we did the principle thing and we got a defense verdict." And what I love about this group is that win or lose people are posting in that group. And especially when they lose, we're going in there and we're doing the Monday morning quarterback, is that what it's called? When you debrief something? You know me and my sports metaphors. But there's no shame around it, which is fantastic.
And so we were all kind of piling in, piling on, on this debrief. And it was a very interesting conversation. And so I wanted to share some of the insights. And I probably should wait, as usual, until I get my own thoughts clear on this, but, you know me, I work out stuff on the podcast. So here we go.
We now have a updated issue oriented voir dire that's not in the book. And one of the things in that voir dire, and if you want to learn more about that, it's in our H2H Fun-damentals course. But one thing in that book, The Five Step Process, is one of the steps is find your principles.
Now remember that principles are something that are fundamentally true and that 99% of people believe. If you go outside when it's raining, you will get wet. Or you might get wet, depending on whether you have an umbrella or not.
I mean it's a fundamental truth that nobody can really argue with. And so in the H2H voir dire method, we source our principles from the jury. Yes, we know what principles our case are based on. We spend a lot of time doing that. That's why that's one of the steps in the voir dire method. But then we design questions to let the jury say it first. And this isn't a gimmick. It's not like we're trying to get them to say something they don't believe. Again, 99% of people believe in principles. So we're really clear of what we're doing when we go in there looking for our jury and we let them solve our problems. That's the big focus of the H2H voir dire method.
And so in this case, it was a contract case with a car dealership and an elderly couple who had been taken advantage of. And the gist of it is that, "They gave us the principles in voir dire, just like you taught us how to do, Sari, and we still lost."
And so what came out of that conversation I thought was so important I wanted to podcast on it, which is there is, get your notes out, a hierarchy of principles.
So for example, 99% of people would agree, although I think that number is dropping, I'm just looking at our world today. But 99% of people would agree that lying is wrong. Yeah? Right? So you could go into your case and you could say, "Lying is wrong." Except maybe your case is about kidnapping. Is lying okay then? If it gets you to safety? Can you lie to your kidnapper? Yeah, it's okay. There's another principle there, to lie if your personal safety's at risk. Yes? I think most people believe that. Two principles, war of the principles.
So if you have a savvy defense attorney, they do exist, they will find the principle that outranks yours, and, voila, we have a war of the principles. So here's an example.
For example, let's say you've got a plaintiff principle, it's not okay to rush someone to sign something they don't understand. All right? That would be a common one in a contract case, for example. The defense principle might be, if you sign something you're responsible. Now in this particular case, the defense used that principle or something damn near close and they won. The question is why? Why? Why would that second one, why did that one win? Why is it the higher ranked? Outranked the other principle? Because on its face we would assume that people would rally around the wrongness of having someone rushing them to sign something they don't understand. But ultimately, you signed it, you're in for it, is the principle that won.
The second part of that conversation I think answers this question, and I'm going to go off a little bit more on it, which is defensive attribution.
Now y'all know that defensive attribution is about the concept of jurors don't want to believe that what happened to our plaintiff could happen to them, so they keep themselves emotionally safe by saying, "I wouldn't have done that. I wouldn't have made those decisions." But here I think defensive attribution goes a little deeper, in a different way. And here's what I mean. Which principle makes a juror feel better? It's not necessarily about safety. Yes, safety is a primary concern.
If we take a look at Maslow's hierarchy of needs, or just our own brain wiring, the number one, the bottom of that thing, the biggest one, biggest need, that has to be met is physiological. We need air, we need water, we need food, we need shelter. That's our number one need as humans. That's what our brain is wired for.
Number two is that safety piece. Personal security, employment, health. We need to feel safe.
The third one is love and belonging. Friendship, family connection.
Fourth, this is important, is esteem, respect, status.
And the top is self-actualization, being the most that you can be, being the best version of you.
By the way, when we're talking about motivating versus persuasion, if you've been around here long enough, you know we're all about motivating jurors to act instead of trying to persuade them. Here's your motivation. Go study Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Because here's what I know about motivating people. When you give people what they need, they will be motivated. The end.
If you're trying to motivate someone to go to a self-help course on how to be a better person, but they don't have a roof over their heads, they're not going to be motivated. It's not until you actually speak to their need that they will be motivated to act. Offer them housing? Now they're motivated to do what they need to do to get that housing. Go study the Maslow's pyramid. Side note, but important one.
All right, so it's not a full picture is what I'm trying to get at, when we say, "Well, they didn't want to be taken advantage of so that's why they voted the way that they wanted to vote." It's limiting to believe that the primary motivation in terms of defensive attribution is safety, like the reptile purports, because the way we feel about ourselves is also very motivating.
We want to believe that we are the best version. We would always make the best decisions. In fact, we judge ourselves, Stephen Covey says this, by our intentions, you've probably heard this, and others by their behavior. We always feel like if we do something bad, well, we didn't mean to do it, but if someone else does something bad, they meant to do it.
This is called the actor-observer asymmetry. Asymmetry? I don't know if I'm saying that right, or the fundamental attribution error. So you may be familiar with this, but the fundamental attribution error is when people tend to focus on the internal or personal characteristic or disposition as the cause of behavior rather than the external factors or situational influences.
So in a contract situation, they think, "Well, I wouldn't have made that decision. I wouldn't have signed the contract because I'm smart and I'm savvy." Where someone may have signed a contract who's also smart and savvy, but because they were in the moment, they were feeling pressured, there was an influence going on, they ended up doing it anyway. But we like to judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behavior.
Now here is my theory, because I don't know if this is necessarily true, but here's my theory that I'm sharing with you. I would love to hear your thoughts on this.
The higher we move up on the Maslow's hierarchy of needs, we need to focus more on who the person is, versus what the person does. Meaning the source of defensive attribution is going to change. So if our case is about death or destruction or catastrophic injury, we are talking about a juror who's thinking, "Well, I wouldn't have made that decision. I wouldn't have done that thing." Right? Doing. But if we're talking about something like a contract dispute, now we're thinking about who the person is, "I'm savvy. I'm responsible. I'm integrious. I keep my promises."
Now why does this matter? Well, because the solve for each of these two types of defensive attribution are different because the problem is different. I mean, as you know, most of you, the solve for the "safety" defensive attribution, meaning the jurors reptilian part of their brain is being activated because they're thinking, "Oh my God, this could happen to me or my family."
And so they can't be with that so they start to think of all the things they would've done differently? So the solve for that is to tell the story, for example, from the defense point of view. In my method, we talk about not using names. So that as the jurors hear about what happened to the plaintiff, they can insert themselves in the story and they can be thinking about, "Oh my God, I don't want this to happen. And it was unavoidable." We bring the story alive. We don't use visuals, at least in my method, during the story part so we can really transport them there and have them have this visceral experience of, "Oh my God, this was avoidable. Oh my god, this could have happened to me, and therefore I need to hold this person responsible."
But in a contract situation, we're talking more about who someone is. Think about this. Jurors don't want to feel stupid. No one runs around telling their friends how they got swindled. We all want to feel like we're savvy and smart, not dumb and an easy target.
So when we're talking about war of principles, the first thing I want you to be thinking about is what type of defensive attribution are you dealing with? I wrote DA in my notes. My God, we have so many DAs around here, defensive attribution, designing an alliance, devil's advocate question. So what type of defensive attribution are you dealing with, lower on Maslow's hierarchy, I keep struggling with that, Maslow's, Maslow's, hierarchy of needs. You can use your standard things that you do. Defensive attribution, I'm sorry, defensive point of view, taking out names, all of the things. But the higher we are on that hierarchy, we now need to look at esteem and self-actualization.
So first, determine where you are on that scale. Again, if death and injury are what your case is about, you're lower on the scale. You're in the physiological and safety piece. If it's about a contract dispute, those kinds of things, you're higher on the scale. And I'm not going to necessarily say that we are not higher on the scale on all of the cases. I haven't thought through this enough. This may apply to all cases, but just for now, where I am in my thinking, that's the first question you want to ask yourself. And if you are higher in the hierarchy, you're in the self-esteem or the self-actualization place. You want to find the principle that preserves that high sense of self for jurors. Because when you go in and you say something like, "Well, company," they tell you, "Companies shouldn't swindle people." Let's just say that. You think you've got it, but the jurors think, "Yeah, they shouldn't, and I'm going to tell you they shouldn't. But if they did, it wouldn't affect me because I'm smart."
So how do we come up with the principle that will preserve a juror's sense of self versus their sense of security? That is the question we need to answer. And I'm not going to answer it here. Why? Unfortunately, or fortunately, we're having more defense attorneys get my information. I used to think this was so silly when people had like, "Oh, you have to sign in to read my blog and all that stuff." I was like, "Oh, get over yourself." But now we're having these defense motions in limine and I do not want them to have all of this access, just information.
I'm going to keep trying to share as much as I can with you, but if you really want all of my thoughts on the subject, you got to get in the crew. I'm not saying that to sell you on the crew, I'm saying that I tell them everything I'm learning because that is a password protected environment where we can share and work on all these concepts together.
But this is what I have for you today. Now the caveat is that safety can absolutely be an issue in like a contract case, for example. If there's someone there that thinks, "Oh my God, if that happened to me, I'd be out on the street. I'd lose all my money." So be thinking about your jury pool too, but in general, when it comes to a war of principles, the best principle that's going to win is going to be decided by what kind of case you have. Is it about a sense of security or about a sense of self-esteem and who the juror is? Two different approaches to two different things, and I'm going to be sharing more with my crew.
We open the crew in January, so make sure to get in there. I'm actually thinking about doing a long, maybe even a day long, training on principles. This whole idea of hierarchy of principles, how to source your principles, where to look for principles, all of the things on principles. And I will wait. I was going to do it in January, but we don't open until late January. I'm going to wait until February to do that training. So get in in January so you can be part of that, that's part of your tuition, and we can learn about this together.
All right, talk soon.
While you wait for next week's episode, how would you like instant access to exclusive trial skills training on my H2H funnel method for voir dire? Grab a pen and paper so you can jot down the website address for a 16-minute video that will help you win more cases. The free training is called Let the Jury Solve Your Problems in Three Easy Steps, and I'm even going to send you a workbook to go with it. Now, are you ready for the address? visit sariswears.com/training. You'll see me there. Enjoy.
3 pOWERFUL STRATEGIES TO HELP YOU READ A JUROR'S MIND
Let the Jury Solve Your Problems in 3 Easy Steps
Join me for a free training to understand what the jury is thinking so you have the confidence to trust them - and yourself - in the courtroom.
Use the H2H Funnel Method so that jurors tell YOU the principles of the case instead of you telling THEM.
Subscribe to the Podcast
Tune in weekly as Sari shares tips that will help you up your game at trial, connect with jurors, and build confidence in your abilities so that you’ll never worry about winning again.
Sign up for trial tips, mindset shifts, and whatever else is on Sari’s brilliant fucking mind.