Humor opens ears, minds and hearts to receive you and your message. Best-selling author Daniel Goleman calls this the “happy face advantage.” I’ve experienced this truth in my law practice. Many times, a lawyer’s first encounter with an opposing counsel can be much like two junkyard dogs circling one another . . . both of them wetting the baseboards to establish turf in a disputed matter.
I find it helpful to inject humor, for most of the time the other attorney joins in the fun. In fact, one highbrow lawyer from the west coast had so much fun he gave in to virtually all of my negotiation efforts. He said, “Russ, there really are only two kinds of lawyers – deal makers and deal breakers. You are definitely a deal maker” – All this, in part, due to my light-hearted approach. (Note that opposing attorneys do not often compliment one another.)