Fourth of July weekend, I am a bit embarrassed to admit, I was glued to the closing arguments of the Casey Anthony trial.

Certainly, the story was bizarre: a well-written murder mystery played out in real life.  Although, my interest was in the attorneys’ art of influence.

Initially, I felt certain she was guilty, then, when the defense made their closing case I had reasonable doubt of her guilt.  Even in light of Jose Baez calling people liars (which I was taught never to do), I liked how he painted the picture with the visual aids.  I was surprised how quickly I was influenced.

Then, the next day, the prosecution so eloquently presented their closing argument.  I was influenced again.   Both prosecution attorneys, I thought, were stellar.  She is guilty; doubt erased.

Like many people, I was stunned by the ‘not guilty’ verdict.

How is it we all could view the same thing, and come to different conclusions?

Because we didn’t view the same thing:

  • Our vantage point was different.
  • Our investment in the outcome was different.
  • Our interpretation of ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’ was different.

It is easy for me to sit in my living room and have an opinion.  The jurors were there in the flesh.  They had a different vantage point.

The jurors also have to live with their decision forever.  I don’t.

‘Beyond all reasonable doubt’ is the trickiest part.   What that means isn’t really clear.  I imagine as the jury deliberated, the stronger communicators were able to influence the others.

To influence outcomes three things are crucially important.

  • The physical presence or energy (do people ‘feel’ credible/authentic)
  • The investment of the other party
  • The knowledge or understanding of the other

Influence is an art. What brush strokes paint the picture for you?

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