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The importance of Body Language in Court

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The importance of Body Language in Court

La importancia del Lenguaje Corporal en el Tribunal
The importance of Body Language in Court

Communication is not only oral, it is also written, stage and gestural

Sign language is dominated by gestures, especially the face and hands, although other parts of the body are also involved. This is demonstrated by multiple artistic representations throughout history. A regional dance, for example, in addition to being an artistic manifestation, is a gestural communication full of meaning. — Greeting someone with a hug, or with a handshake, is very revealing. Raising the “heart” finger is an insult, which is sometimes more humiliating than a verbal insult.

How does gestural language influence Sala?

The gestures with which the client or witness accompany their statements are taken into account by the court when assessing their credibility. To such an extent that the Second Chamber of the Supreme Court, in its recent ruling 119/2019, of March 6, has included Sign language of conviction as one of the eleven criteria that the judge must consider as evidence of the credibility of the declarant. Sign language is a mirror of the real emotions of our interlocutors.

Therefore, you should keep these rules in mind.

Rule 1.- Stand tall.

The upright body sends many messages. The first message, sign of presence. Presence means self-confidence, and also respect for others. A hunched body does not bode well. The first signal that the opponent will receive from a Lawyer who enters the Courtroom with his body facing the ground will be that of despondency and insecurity. Do not send negative messages or omens of defeat. Remember that often the body speaks before the mouth. The best body posture while you are in Sala is one in which the body is kept upright and with a straight back. Thus, you reveal to the Court and those present that you feel confident in your argument. At the moment of greatest intensity of your speech you can lean slightly forward and, accompanied by your hands, give more emphasis to your argument. But never lean back in the chair, because, far from appearing safe, you will reveal an attitude of arrogance or superiority. And remember that in stands you are not superior to your adversary. The best quality, humility; the best argument, the one prepared to exhaustion.

Rule 2.- Keep your hands open with the palms raised.

Open hands speak for themselves: you have nothing to hide, you are sure of yourself and clear-headed. Hands reinforce the power of arguments. Never have them static. When you question and when you present your argument, show the palms of your hands open and up, as it is a sign of frankness and transparency. In this way, you will provoke an unconscious reaction of acceptance in the listener. Open hands show your sincerity and honesty. Do not hide your hands under the table while you are talking, as this could be interpreted as a gesture of hiding something.

Don’t play with your fingers or pen or anything else; These are typical gestures of someone who is insecure and nervous and tries to hide it. Do not rub your palms, it is a sign of expectation of profit. It will be good if you notice that the judgment is favoring you, but do not reveal this feeling in Court. Your impression may be wrong, and the sentence may upset you.

Rule 3.- Rest your shoulders.

A relaxed body conveys tranquility and security. Body tension is not a good companion. If you take a seat and the adversary notices your tension in the rigidity of your posture, he will think that you are afraid of him. A rested body denotes naturalness and will not give clues as to how nervous you feel. In Spain, lawyers do not walk around the courtroom like in American movies. Here the lawyer is sheltered behind the table. And from that position you must transmit confidence in yourself. Don’t tend to eat the microphone on the table by lying on top of it. If you lean over the microphone you decrease the transmission of confidence in your defense. Also, do not touch it from time to time as a tension discharge. For your adversary, overt tension equates to little authority in your confidence and security.

Rule 4.- Don’t don’t lean forward.

There are gestures that reveal kindness and interest and gestures or postures that reveal aggressiveness. Even the same gesture or posture can have contradictory meanings. If in the middle of a conversation with another person you notice that they lean slightly towards you, this gesture reveals that that person is interested in what you are saying and you will find it pleasant. However, when you are in court acting as a lawyer and you have to question a witness or expert, avoid leaning forward when asking questions, as this gesture reveals a certain aggressiveness that can make the declarant uncomfortable and ruin your defense; surely the Tribunal will catch your attention; questioned will feel intimidated and his response will be hostile. Stay in your place, relaxed and calm; nothing better than addressing the witness with kindness.

Rule 5.- Do not look away as a sign of contempt.

¿How would you feel if the opposing counsel does not look at you while you are presenting your report? Wouldn’t you feel underappreciated and nobody?

The code between lawyers demands respect between colleagues, and that’s how it should be. Don’t forget that the customers, having finished their business, will go away; However, there is nothing better than a good relationship between colleagues. With the time even you can make friends, you can share things and, who knows if someday you will remember his good exposition and you could ask him for advice.

Mirale from the front and pay attention, even if you get bored. Don’t let him notice that your speech is boring. Bridge in its place. If you take it well prepared your defense will please you that they pay attention. Have empathy with your opponent. Do not forget that, by diverting the gaze with the intention of contempt, you can cause a rebound effect, and it is your opponent who understands that your lack of attention does not obey your lack of interest, but a reaction of avoiding contact out of fear of his excellence.

Photo: El Confidencial

Elena Regulez
Lawyer specialist in Family Law and Criminal Law


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