Heather Hansen

3 Tools to Be Your Own Best Advocate

If you want to succeed, no matter what you do, you need these 3 tools to be your own best advocate.  As AI continues to take over jobs, and technology continues to change the jobs that remain, your ability to advocate becomes more and more important. You want to advocate for your ideas, your team, your business and yourself. It’s no longer enough to have a good idea. You have to be able to communicate that idea, support it, and persuade others to get on board with that idea, with enthusiasm. You have to learn to advocate for for your big idea. And when you do, you will turn your clients, customers, investors and teammates into your advocates as well.

Advocating is a skill that I’ve honed and practiced in my work as a trial attorney for the past 20 years. I love to stand before a jury and advocate for my clients. It’s why I became a lawyer. But I soon realized that the biggest part of my job isn’t advocating for my clients. I have to teach them how to advocate for themselves. Because jurors don’t want to hear from me. They want to hear from the parties–the people who made the choices, did the things and had the ideas at issue in the case. My clients have to learn to advocate for themselves, their choices, and their ideas. And my job is to give them the tools to do that well. With these tools, some practice, and a real willingness to go all in, anyone can learn to become a better advocate.

Here are 3 tools that will help you be your own best advocate.

1-Know Your Jury: At trial I choose my jury by reviewing the jury questionnaires, asking the prospective jurors questions, listening closely to their answers, and reading their tone of voice and body language. I get to know them, and then I use that knowledge to advocate to them. You have your jury–your investors, your customers, your clients, your team members. Get to know them. Listen to them. Know how they talk, what ideas resonate with them, and what they love. The better you know your jury, the better you advocate.

2-Break the Curse: The Curse of Knowledge is the idea that you don’t know how to explain the things you know so well. It’s a huge problem in my trials. I’m a medical malpractice defense attorney. The doctors I represent know medical terms and procedures so well that they forget what it’s like not to know them. But I know my jury–and often they don’t know what a “vascular surgeon who performed an angiogram” is. If my client uses these words, the curse is real and we will lose. But if we start talking about the blood vessel doctor who took pictures of the blood vessels–we are on our way to a win. The first step in breaking the Curse is knowing that you have it. Then you can break it with the right choice of words.

3-Use What You’ve Got: Use all of it–eyes, ears, body, Advocating isn’t just choosing the right words. It’s also sharing them the right way. And I do mean share. This has to be a give and take. Speak, but listen. Move, but watch. Use your energy, and pay attention to others’. I work with my clients to use their tone of voice, facial expressions and body language but also to read others’. When they’re aware of the energy of the jury, the Judge and the attorneys in the room, they can use their own to advocate to win.

And so can you. Anyone can be a stronger advocate. Start with these three tools, and get to work. Your big idea needs you.

Heather Hansen

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