Ask safe questions

Ask safe questions– ones you know the answer to, or ones that you know the witness can only answer one way. I. Vary your pitch. J. Vary your tone. K. Vary the speed at which you speak. L. Use downward or neutral inflection.

  1. When someone speaks with a downward inflection, the listener is cued in that the speaker is making a statement. The listener is being told something. Not asked. Told. Notice how this sounds: “You went to the park.” There is no room to argue or answer. The listener is being told, “You went to the park.” Downward inflection = control.
  2. When someone speaks with a neutral inflection, the listener is cued in that the speaker has not given up control of the conversation. Notice how this sounds: “You went to the park . . . and the store . . . and the library . . . and the theater . . .” The speaker still owns the conversation. Neutral inflection = control.
  3. Compare that to how this sounds: “You went to the park?” You should have naturally heard an upward inflection. That was a question. The upward inflection cues the listener in that the speaker does not know the answer, and the listener should therefore respond to the speaker. The listener is given control of the conversation. Upward inflection = loss of control. M. Vary or eliminate your “hooks” or “tags” while conducting cross examination.

Court Martial Lawyers – Alexandra González-Waddington & Michael Waddington Attorneys at Law

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