The classic book, How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie has stood the test of time because its insights have been proven to be true and very helpful. Whether you are preparing for an oral argument, a hearing, or a trial, you can benefit from Carnegie’s analysis of how you can persuade others. His tips are also applicable for dealing with clients.

Principle 1: Become genuinely interested in other people
Dale Carnegie, Referring to his childhood dog Tippy who was killed by lightning, Carnegie says Tippy taught him that you can make more friends in two months by becoming genuinely interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you. (52)

Principle 2: Smile
The expression you wear on your face is far more important than the clothes on your back. (63)
“You must have a good time meeting people if you expect them to have a good time meeting you.” (65).

Principle 3: Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
One of the first lessons a politician learns is: To recall a voter’s name is statesmanship. To forget it is oblivion (77).

Napoleon the Third, nephew of the great Napoleon, had this technique. If he did not hear the name distinctly, he would ask that it be repeated. If he still had trouble, he asked that it be spelled. During conversations, he would repeat name. Sometimes he would write name down so he could visually remember it (78).

Principle 4: Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
Remember that the people you are talking to are “a hundred times more interested in themselves and their wants and problems than they are in your problems.” Someone’s toothache is more important than starving people around the globe.

Principle 5: Talk in terms of the other person’s interest.
Teddy Roosevelt knew that the “royal road to a person’s heart is to talk about the things
he or she treasures most.”

In business dealings and interviews, don’t start the conversation by asking for what you want. Instead, talk about what interests the other person. When you do this, your life enlarges. You often will wind up getting what you want.

Principle 6: Make the other person feel important–and do it sincerely.
An important principle is: Always make the other person feel important. Give compliments even when you are not looking for anything to gain. As Jesus said, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”

The key for trial lawyers is to remember that it is not about yourself when you are in the courtroom, but the judge or the jury, depending on who you need to persuade. Always be focused on the needs and wants of the decision-maker, not what you think is important. Talk about what the judge or jury wants to hear, not what you think is important. Good luck in your next trial.