Connecting dots by John C. Wunsch personal injury attorney
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Connecting the Dots

An opening statement, we are told, is a recitation of the facts, preferably in chronological order, without embellishment, ornamentation, or argument. This probably explains why most opening statements are imprecise, generalized, and not particularly persuasive. Might there be a better way?

“Psychological resilience refers to the ability of individuals to successfully respond to major changes, adversities, or risks (Duchek, 2018). This study mainly analyzed resilience introduced from health and psychology research into the context of entrepreneurship (Bullough and Renko, 2013). Psychological resilience in the context of entrepreneurship refers to the ability to overcome high-impact entrepreneurial challenges and persist in the entrepreneurial process in the face of adverse situations and unexpected outcomes (Awotoye and Singh, 2017). The definition of psychological resilience has three key themes: adversity, positive adaptation, and risk/uncertainty, which are relevant in the entrepreneurship context. The concepts of risk and uncertainty are core in entrepreneurship because the entrepreneurial process involves significant risks (Awotoye and Singh, 2017).”

An opening, of course, is just the start of things. Ideally, the quality of proof presented thereafter should exceed expectations. Nonetheless, the same mindset that drives an entrepreneur to “overcome high-impact entrepreneurial challenges” might be a useful lens through which to view the opportunities and challenges of your typical opening statement. It is, after all, a “process in the face of adverse situations and unexpected outcomes.”

“Through exploratory factor analysis, Ayala and Manzano (2014) found that hardiness, resourcefulness, and optimism are the three factors of entrepreneurs’ psychological resilience. First, hardiness involves a kind of self-control that prevents individuals from getting easily frustrated in the face of adverse circumstances, while being bold and striving to achieve their goals (Kobasa, 1979).”

Hardiness. With regard to opening statement, hardiness suggests precise fact-based phraseology (“self-control,”), patience (“that prevents individuals from getting easily frustrated”), and clarity “(“while being bold and striving to achieve goals”). Self-control is useful since it prevents overstating the strength and quality of the proof about to be presented. Equally as important is the recognition that your adversary will be raking skepticism over just about everything you suggest. An opening should incorporate, to some extent, what’s most difficult and problematic, and making reasonable sense of these at the outset.

“Second, resourcefulness refers to the resources, abilities, and skills that individuals possess to control the various adverse conditions they must face. Resourcefulness means that individuals believe in their ability to control events and influence the outcome of situations (Powell and Baker, 2011). In real life, entrepreneurs usually exhibit many characteristics related to resourcefulness. For example, they tend to perform well in the face of ambiguity and change (Ayala and Manzano, 2014), consider a “terrible situation” as an opportunity (Bullough et al., 2014), persist in adversity (Holland and Shepherd, 2013), and ultimately act and achieve goals with wisdom and endurance. In fact, entrepreneurs’ resourcefulness is not entirely innate, and a large part of it is acquired through learning.”

Resourcefulness. With regard to opening statement, resourcefulness suggests not only projecting belief and confidence in the rightness of your side of the case, but creating opportunities for others to draw the conclusions you seek. In fact, if each statement you make does not in some way open up another pathway, the phrase should be revised. It’s the difference between asserting a conclusion and building, step by step, a pathway enabling others to take a small step forward: “Pointillism  is a technique of painting in which small, distinct dots of color are applied in patterns to form an image…The technique relies on the ability of the eye and mind of the viewer to blend the color spots into a fuller range of tones. It is related to Divisionism, a more technical variant of the method. Divisionism is concerned with color theory, whereas pointillism is more focused on the specific style of brushwork used to apply the paint…The practice of Pointillism is in sharp contrast to the traditional methods of blending pigments on a palette…Painting is inherently subtractive, but Pointillist colors often seem brighter than typical mixed subtractive colors. This may be partly because subtractive mixing of the pigments is avoided, and because some of the white canvas may be showing between the applied dots.”[1]

“Pointillist colors often seem brighter than typical mixed subtractive colors”–– odd, somewhat paradoxically, in contrast to generalization, the better approach is to reach large conclusions through a series of well-organized discrete small points.

“Third, optimism refers to the ability of individuals to maintain a positive attitude in difficult situations (Schneider, 2001). Individuals can learn from mistakes and see them as opportunities rather than failures (Schneider, 2001). Studies have shown that optimism has a positive impact on entrepreneurship and helps entrepreneurs actively deal with various problems. Therefore, optimist individuals may be more proactive in dealing with environmental problems and find it easier to cultivate their own creativity.”

Optimism. With regard to opening statement, optimism suggests a mindset that continues to strive in the face of adversity, anticipating and defusing your opponent’s defenses. In this regard, there are two areas of thought worth considering: Verbal-artistic intelligence. Using words, written or spoken, artistically, primarily as an object of beauty, not necessarily logically or rationally. Viewed in this light, words become more symbolic, more akin to mathematics than language.  Mathematical-artistic intelligence. Using numbers artistically, primarily as an object of beauty, not necessarily arithmetically or axiomatically. Viewed in this light, numbers become more communicative, more akin to language than mathematics.

What’s the point of pondering these types of reversals? Once you recognize these types of reversals exist it opens up new ways of seeing. Don’t assume your listeners share your beliefs, or will respond to your proof in the same manner in which you have responded. Thinking a bit “in reverse” will enable you see your case from their point of view and make adjustments accordingly. Now when you sit down to craft your opening statement, you don’t have to try so hard, there’s no need to exert force, it’s easy––all you have to do is just connect the dots.

Quotations from: Wenqing Wu, Hongxin Wang, Hsiu-Yu Lee, Yu-Ting Lin, Fen Guo, How Machiavellianism, Psychopathy, and Narcissism Affect Sustainable Entrepreneurial Orientation: The Moderating Effect of Psychological Resilience, Front. Psychol., 12 April 2019

[1] Wikipedia/Pointillism