“The 30-second rule”: more clients and better verdicts?


In a recent post, How to make people like you, I said that a positive attitude is a key to getting people to like you, especially when dealing with people facing stressful situations. Being liked may not be first on the list of traits you associate with success in the legal field, but countless studies demonstrate that people prefer to do business with people they know, like, and trust. All things being equal, clients will choose you and referral sources will refer to you, because they like you.

Let’s face it, even litigators benefit when juries, judges, adjusters, and opposing counsel like them.

Books like The Likeability Factor: How to Boost Your L-Factor and Achieve Your Life’s Dreams by Tim Sanders and 25 Ways to Win With People:How to Make Others Feel Like a Million Bucks by John C. Maxwell and Les Parrott substantiate this and offer specific strategies for achieving greater likability.

Maxwell and Parrott say the way to make people like you is to make them feel good about themselves when they are with you. One way to do that is with something Maxwell calls, "The 30-Second Rule: within the first thirty seconds of a conversation, say something encouraging to a person."

Maxwell learned this from his father who taught him that when you make contact with people, instead of focusing on yourself, search for ways to make them look good. It could be saying thank you for something they have done for you or someone you know. You might praise them on an accomplishment, or offer a word of encouragement as they work towards a goal. Or you might simply compliment their appearance.

Maxwell encourages us to ask ourselves, "What positive, enouraging thing can I say to each person I will see today?"

With whom is your next appointment? Who will you be speaking with later today? Think about what you could say to them that will make them feel good about themselves, and say it.

This may feel uncomfortable, at first, but give it a try. What might surprise you is how good you feel making others feel good about themselves.