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Trust

Attorneys Appearing in Court

Imagine if you couldn’t trust anything anyone said. You’d cease to be able to function with any kind of reliability in society. You buy a product, but who knows if you’re being overcharged. You ask for directions, but there’s no way of knowing if they’re the right ones. You’d never put money in the bank; they’ll just steal it all from you anyway. In a trustless world, you live alone, for fear of betrayal and violence at every turn. A trustless world is paranoid, cruel and lonely.

That’s one of the reasons trust is such a vital part of our society. Societies with high levels of trust tend to have more happiness, greater economic prosperity and other social benefits. Trust can be derived from two sources, the head and the heart. Cognitive trust is when you trust others because the data shows you that it’s safe. This could be because they’ve shown themselves to be trustworthy before, a record of trust. Institutional controls also increase cognitive trust; when you have a signed contract, it’s easy to trust the other party, because the consequences for breach of contract are more severe than the consequences of following through.

The other type of trust is affective trust. This trust is driven by emotion, how you feel about a person. Affective trust is powerful, built from spending time in communities or families, built from empathy. One of the reasons it’s so important for an attorney to develop professionalism is it builds affective trust; when you’ve internalized your professionalism and you become professional, people begin to trust you implicitly. Honesty generates affective trust; when you’re an honest person, you’re a trusting person, and trust tends to beget trust. The nature of affective trust makes it stronger and weaker than cognitive trust; an affective trust for a person will make you more likely to believe them even when all evidence points to the contrary, but a breach of affective trust can be almost impossible to repair.

The two types of trust are not mutually exclusive, in the same way that our emotions are not felt in isolation of our thoughts. As an attorney, it’s incredibly important to cultivate both affective and cognitive trust with clients, as it is from this trust that attorneys derive their authority. Cognitive trust is easy enough to build up; point out to clients who are rational but untrusting all the reasons they have to trust you. You can point to your history of success in similar cases, and you can explain the ramifications you’ll face if you act outside the best interests of the client. Affective trust can be more difficult to gain, but emotional intelligence will get you there. Be empathetic. Listen to your client’s concerns, even those you know aren’t grounded in reality, and address them. Act professionally; take their calls. Don’t just tell them they can trust you; make them feel it.

At Attorneys on Demand, we want your trust; we know how much you value your clients. That’s why we have qualified court appearance attorneys who will be able to take your place for a court appearance with all the professionalism and skill you could want; it’s the next best thing to you being there yourself.