The Word Leader Podcast: A Writing Podcast

306. Schooled by a Lawyer

August 30, 2022 Leandre Larouche
The Word Leader Podcast: A Writing Podcast
306. Schooled by a Lawyer
Show Notes Transcript

Not very long ago, I was reminded by a lawyer that the written word is more persuasive than speech. I should know better since I talk about the importance of writing every single day to anyone willing to hear me out. But I may be excused this time as I was under pressure and looking to avoid a legal dispute. What had happened? I was speaking with an attorney hours before a scheduled meeting with the other party. When I told the attorney I thought I should simply speak with the other party during the meeting, he interrupted me. He said, "no, the written is more persuasive. Write an email, then go to the meeting." I thought, "well, if people won't believe me, they should at least believe the attorney."
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So not very long ago, I got schooled by a lawyer. And I don't get called above the law, which is the lawyer's expertise actually got schooled about writing, and the power of the written word, which is my expertise. So that's a little embarrassing, but I thought I would share this with you because I do believe it is an important lesson. And I do talk about the fact that the written word is more persuasive than speech. But I figured, if you don't want to take it from me, you can at least take it from the lawyer. 

So I'll tell you the story. To make a long story short, I was engaged in a business relationship with a vendor, and the terms of the contracts weren't being respected. And so I was wanting to terminate the relationship and hopefully get some of the money back that I had paid. However, the terms of the contracts, of course, they weren't written for me. In fact, I was, you know, I was in a difficult situation. So before I did anything, I sought legal counsel, to see what the worst case scenario would be what the best case scenario would be. Essentially, I wanted to wait and figure out what could happen, what I could do. And so it took several days before I was able to actually speak with a lawyer; that was a whole debacle in and of itself.

I was finally able to get a lawyer on the phone the day that I had a meeting with the vendor. And so it was probably three or four hours prior to the call with the vendor that I talked to the lawyer. And so, as we're talking, as we're exploring my options, it becomes clear that I should simply ask to terminate the relationship and make amicable terms, and so forth. And so I tell the lawyer, well, you know, I have a meeting with him. And in three to four hours, so maybe I can just talk about this during the meeting. And that's when the lawyer stopped me. And he said, "no, no, no, what are you talking about? Write an email, write a letter, an email, outline, what you're not happy about, and the outcome that you're seeking." He said speech is not persuasive; writing is, and that was such a good reminder. And he was right in a lot of ways. Because when we are speaking, and especially when we're dealing with something like the law, we need to be firm, and we need to be strict, and we need to be persuasive. And so I'm really glad that I, I followed the lawyer's advice, which, honestly, perhaps in another situation, I would have come to that conclusion myself. But there was some stress involved, I was under pressure. So anyway, it was a lawyer's idea. But I'm really glad I followed the lawyer's advice because I didn't realize that writing in a lot of ways is more persuasive than speech. Imagine if I'd got to that meeting. We're humans, we have emotions we can't edit. I definitely would have made would have been softer; I would have been more kind if you will. And that definitely would not have helped my case. And what ended up happening is that I wrote the email and I told the vendor, please read before our call. And, and so he got on the call, and he said, Okay, well, "I just read it. I respect your opinion. Clearly, this is not a relationship that's working, and I'll just refund your money. And we can leave it at that." 

So I ended up walking away with my preferred outcome. And I was frankly quite surprised. I did think I had some legitimate grounds for making those requests. It wasn't anything unreasonable. However, I knew that, technically, the terms of the contracts were against me and so I wasn't necessarily hopeful to walk away with my best-case scenario, but I do think that happened because I used writing. And my email was extremely persuasive. And, of course, it was very firm, and it was very direct. But it simply laid out the facts. And it laid out a lot of facts, which was, which were pretty damning for the other party. And so I know for a fact that it is to have written this email that allowed me to get my best-case scenario. And so I want to encourage you to think about the sheer power of the written word, and how much more persuasive you can be when you write.

Of course, video is great when it comes to business. Of course, speaking in person or on the phone is great, because you can gauge people's emotions, you can gauge their body language, and tone, but at the end of the day, nothing quite beats the written word. And the written word, the advantage is that you can work on it, you can tweak it, you can edit it, and so you can make it perfect. To the extent that perfect, may or may not exist, it doesn't, but you can make it as perfect as it can be. Now, I will tell you that I did spend a couple of hours on that email, but was it worth it? Of course, it was because that ultimately helped me walk away with my best-case scenario. And of course, you know, if you're not a writer, if you're not an expert writer, you can always have recourse to somebody else who can get help in writing, you can hire somebody who can revise somebody who can help you. 

So there are a lot of different ways you can use the written word, and leverage it to be more persuasive. So I thought this was interesting to tell you this story. Because for once, it was not me who said that writing is more persuasive than speech; it was the lawyer who was advising me. And I can tell you that in this case, it was definitely a great move, to use the written word, as opposed to having a longer conversation. In fact, the conversation I had with the vendor was you know, pretty short. So we didn't have to spend a whole lot of time; I made my message clear. Ultimately, we terminated the relationship. And in an amicable way, so nobody's angry. Everybody feels like the right thing has been done. And that was thanks to the written word. 

So again, I want to challenge you to consider where you can use the written word—in your business, in your venture—and how you can improve your writing skills as well in writing in order to be more persuasive. So if you want to improve your writing skills, you can go check out www.trivium We have a lot of resources, we have courses and guides, we just recently launched a guide, I'll put the link, we just recently launched a guide called the architecture of writing, which distills essentially all of the secrets of writing 4 writing goals, how to speak to your audience, how to figure out who your audience is, and the different styles the different ways you can address your audience depending on who they are at a micro level, which is extremely important. A lot of people don't understand the micro level of writing and how one word or one sentence construction can change everything. So that guide covers it all. So if you're interested, you can grab this guide. It's definitely going to help you. You can use these lessons. You can read this guide in under an hour, use these lessons and become a more confident writer today. So hope this was helpful and I will talk to you next time.