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OCTOBER 2015 - Cynthia Cohen
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Communication and Trial Practice Tips for the Woman Lawyer

Keep Your Eye on the Ball!  

Visualizing Your Instruction

by Cynthia R. Cohen, Ph.D., Verdict Success LLC 

Are you a polished teacher or an unintended bad influence when giving critical instruction to colleagues, coworkers, experts, and staff? Talented people who are good at what they do (e.g., lawyers, court reporters, insurance brokers) can improve their communication skills when giving critical instruction to others. Articulating a skill or how to complete an assignment you want someone to handle can be tricky. You need empathy for the beginner or junior perspective. What is the junior’s skill level or talent? We often forget to articulate steps when what we do is second nature. Breaking down the task for others to learn or follow your lead is crucial.

Coaches encourage self-improvement and group performance in team sports. Visualization is key. Focus on the positive – rather than highlight the incorrect method. “Keep your eye on the ball” is more productive than “Don’t pick up your head when you swing the club.” This golf example clearly demonstrates the concept of giving better advice. You can process either image. However, we often have a hearing lapse with the “not” in a sentence. When that happens the visualization results in the opposite of the intended message. (Pick up your head when you swing the club). A classic example that I use when teaching concepts during trial preparation is “Don’t think about the pink elephant in the room.” It makes it difficult to forget about that classic elephant!

To achieve success in giving critical instruction, be a better friend and conjure the positive concept. This works on and off the course

WLALA Member and Golf Director Cynthia Cohen specializes in jury research, trial strategies, and trademark consumer surveys at Verdict Success, LLC. Dr. Cohen can be reached at 310-446-4555 or

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