Although our court system is based upon an adversarial process, pitting one side against the other, it is important for litigants and attorneys alike to remind themselves that we do not have to become adversaries. For attorneys, it is possible to zealously advocate for our clients while also behaving in a professional and ethical manner in our interactions with the opposing party. Litigants, whether it is a divorcing couple or two business owners fighting over a bill, can still act civilly (and even kindly) towards one another without compromising the strength of their legal positions. In fact, I believe that the expression "kill them with kindness" holds some truth. I am writing this post today because at times I believe we can all use this reminder to keep us from getting caught up in the heat of the moment. I offer these words of advice, which I will continue to work to follow myself, to lawyers and litigators:
- Say "hello" or maybe even "how are you" when you see or speak to the other party.
- Say "please" when you want something.
- Say "thank you" when you get it.
If kindergartners can do it so can we, right?