Gadgets, Posture & Power

Litigators are expected to be assertive.  Not necessarily aggressive or obnoxious, but assertive.  This is as true for easygoing “Type Bs” as it is for high-strung “Type As.”  So what lessons are litigators to draw from this Harvard University study showing that men and women using relatively larger electronic gadgets behave more assertively than folks using relatively smaller gadgets?

Well, simply ditching your iPhone 4S for a “phablet” (an execrable term) like the new Galaxy Mega won’t do much for you.  That’s because the problem is more fundamental.  Most of our computer gizmos promote closed body posture.  Mobile devices are the worst offenders: when you’re emailing or texting on a smartphone you may be doing this regardless of whether you’re looking at a screen measuring 3.5” or 6.3”.  The Harvard study suggests that the Galaxy will encourage marginally more assertive behavior than the iPhone, and that a desktop computer can be better than both.  But if you hunch over while using your smartphone or your computer, your gadgets could be making you meek.

Perhaps the real solution is to be mindful of posture – something we should always pay attention to anyway.  An earlier Harvard study showed that among both men and women, even brief periods of “power posing” – adopting open and expansive postures – boost testosterone, reduce cortisol (a hormone released in response to stress), and increase feelings of power and tolerance for risk.  So leave the smartphone in your pocket before a big meeting or court appearance, and as best you can whenever you use your computer, tablet, phablet (ugh) or smartphone, sit or stand like this, not like this.

–Duncan Manville

Duncan E. Manville

Duncan has broad experience handling complex civil litigation matters. He has achieved outstanding results for his clients through a combination of zealous advocacy and creative problem-solving and counseling. He is well-versed in all phases of litigation, and has argued multiple cases before the Washington State Supreme Court.

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