Being a trained litigator and a practicing lawyer, I come across the concept of words and their trap on a daily basis.

My challenge begins at the very first appointment with a new client. Most people who face a legal challenge have already decided what the challenge is about – as well as what has to be done, before they even reaching out to seek professional assistance! And in the case where an “opponent” is involved, they embrace wholeheartedly the concept of the “enemy”, whose annihilation has to take place! LOL. Therefore, they use words in order to drag me into their mindset and convince me that they are “right” while their enemy is “wrong”.

The not-doing that I have chosen in such cases, is this:

First, I try to stalk out of my potential client(s) as much information about the case as is possible. This is important because I have discovered through experience that sharing the actual facts with another person has a truly sobering effect; it is the first step to get out of one’s mind.

Secondly, and once I feel I have enough facts, I try to discover what is the real NEED of my client, what lies beyond all those words that are being exchanged. Here, I have found that Théun’s advice in the chapter Properties of Words of Volume I is truly invaluable; it is of great importance to register what the other person is NOT saying, rather than to focus on the face value of the exchange of words.

Usually, I come across a lot of resistance during the above process. My potential client perceives it as me not being one hundred percent on his/her side. The divorce cases are the worst and there have been occasions in which the potential clients did not return to my office. They obviously chose someone else who was willing to pamper them and tell them what they wanted to hear in exchange for access to their wallets. What this resistance and the consequent behaviour REFLECTS for me personally is my own tendency to make every experience a part of my View of the World as fast as possible. Especially if the challenge is accompanied by an “unpleasant” tension, I wish to be done with it ASAP and I fool myself by calling that “resolving”. Therefore, getting in touch with my own NEEDS and with how each challenge that comes my way corresponds with those needs of my clients is a good strategy for me as well.

It is a step towards avoiding the concretisation of the experience, a step towards going beyond the face value of the words and of the concepts they convey.

Sotirios Galanopoulos
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