I don’t win my cases with arguments. In any given trial, the opportunities to argue are few, and they often happen outside the presence of the jury. Most of the arguments get us nowhere closer to a win. The way we actually win cases is by asking questions.

Questions are magic. They’re your superpower. You can use questions to gain trust, to gain perspective, and to gain dates. But you can also use questions to win. Lawyers do this all the time. We ask witnesses questions, and hope that the answers will prove our case to the jury. When we’re questioning our witnesses, those questions are softballs, ready to be hit out of the park. When we question adverse witnesses, on the other hand, those questions are bombs, meant to destroy on contact. You might want to find a happy medium.

But rest assured, you can challenge with questions. I do it on cross exam all the time. I challenge an expert’s opinions with questions. I challenge a witness’ recollection with questions. And I challenge a jury’s preconceived notions about the case with questions. Lawyer learn this early. In law school, many of our professors use the Socratic method. That means that they teach us by asking questions. Often these questions are aggressive, probing and even punishing. Many law students live in dread of being called on in class. In our classes we had microphones, and when someone in our row was chosen for the hot seat the person next to them would slide the microphone over in relieved sympathy. We learned a lot of things in those classes, but most of all we learned the power of questions. Today you get to use that power. TODAY’S CHALLENGE-TRY TO CHALLENGE WITH QUESTIONS.

You could use questions to challenge someone you are arguing with, and you could use questions to challenge yourself and your inner critic. You can challenge anything with a few good questions. How will you use this magic? What questions will you ask to challenge yourself, your loved ones or your colleagues? Share your questions, and maybe even challenge one another with some questions in the forum. I can’t wait to see what you ask.

5 thoughts on “TRIAL DAY 17-CHALLENGE WITH QUESTIONS

  1. I am not in an argument, so I can’t do that today. However, I know I am sometimes pushy with my husband and overdo telling him. Now is a trying time, as I need to watch him and tell (the same as before, but…) because now he knows he needs to change his health behavior hospital discharge instructions. He is amenable, so this is not an argument. BUT I asked a question I never ask, “am I overdoing it? Is there anything I should change about how I ‘help’ you stay on track?” It was a relief to ask, and a relief to hear his answer. He welcomes it. it will be literally, a whole new way of interacting.

    Here are some questions for the group. I’ve been pondering this tonight (before I saw Trial 17). How to you get through a tough day when there is one challenge after another? In retrospect, is there a theme of what you could have done better?

    Another question that I asked myself today is, why don’t I change what I know is not working? Why do I keep doing the same ineffective thing?

    Assuming everyone has at least one thing that’s not working, my question to the group is, why don’t you change what you know is not working? Why do you keep doing the same ineffective thing?

    1. Chavah I love how thoughtful and considerate you are with the challenges. You should take up the torch and do one when this is done! I know the reason I don’t change is because of fear that it will be worse that the status quo, that it will be too tiring, that it will be too hard. Fear is the greatest thief of opportunity.

  2. Thank you, Heather. I’d like to learn what your challenge is – do you mean do one on my own? Or do you mean continue asking questions on yours? Either is a good idea for me.

    Fear is definitely the greatest thief of opportunity. I have a fair share of fear!! I fear doing this kind of project on my own. I haven’t learned how to do this and it seems daunting.

    On this, I have noticed that you have great courage.

  3. I absolutely LoVE asking questions to people because they LoVE being asked and I’m asking questions that are important to both of us, not shallow stuff. Like that nice woman I met who was a double amputee with a big smile on her face in spite of being in a wheelchair! After small talk, I asked, what happened? She said tiny cut on one foot (then again on foot 2) because of nueropothy. I said diabetes? She said yes and with no feeling she had no idea she had a sore and for there…catastrophic. Thinking it must be Type 1, I asked more questions, Type 1? No, Type 2 she said and I said whoaaaaa. So many of us have type 2 how did it get so out of hand? She said diabetes is BOSS and should be respected. Not only did I make a friend by asking questions, I got a valuable education!

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