Body Language in Court

Hi there,

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The perfect example… of what not to do.

Summer is almost here (thank goodness!), and instead of my usual rant on what NOT to wear to court I thought I’d write about body language in court.

Body language and facial expression are more important than you might think. Most first impressions are made in the first few seconds, and in that time it’s how you look and convey yourself that counts. A calm demeanor translates as trustworthy and believable.

When you are in court is not the time to appear angry, frustrated or furious, even though you may legitimately feel all of these emotions. Displaying these negative emotions can come across as a lack of self control, which usually is not a good thing. A party who has been abused can believably show fear in subtle body language. Anyone who cries legitimately at a tough moment on the witness stand can be moving. But these may be the only overtly emotional poses that will not be held against you.

One of the worst things you can do in court is show exaggerated disbelief, roll your eyes, sigh deeply, or shake your head when your soon-to-be ex or her attorney is speaking. Don’t succumb to temptation and do any of this – you will hurt no one but yourself. In these instances lack of expression is better than exaggerated expression.

If you are accompanied by friends or family (and another point: bring no more than an entourage of two well-behaved folks, EVER), be sure they understand courtroom etiquette – self control and a lack of emotion are of great importance.

When your attorney or your ex’s attorney are speaking to the judge, be calm and listen expressionlessly. Jerking your attorney’s elbow and furiously whispering in her ear translates as controlling and over-anxious, and may cause the judge to disregard your position.

All of this can be very hard to do when it’s your money and your kid’s future on the line, and you are asked to appear calm, detached and dispassionate. Think of it as an opportunity to convey silently how serious you are and how respectful you are. It’s your contribution to a well-thought-out performance by your attorney.

Best,

Nancy