Busy doing nothing?
As the courts slowly begin to grind back into gear using new technology, and in a spirit of contrarianism, I’d like to put in a word for the virtues of inactivity – enforced or otherwise.
Over the last few weeks, much ink has been spilt (not least by us at SKO) on the importance of a functioning system of civil justice for those going through relationship breakdown. Sometimes, as someone once said, you don’t know what you’ve got 'til it’s gone. For the first time in our professional lifetimes, we have recently faced the very real prospect of having no means of accessing justice for our clients.
While I don’t seek to suggest that the absence of a functioning civil justice system would be a net societal good, I would venture to suggest that there will be cases where an enforced pause is precisely what is needed: we can all sometimes fall prey to the Politician’s Fallacy that “something must be done”.
Mediators, negotiators and salesmen have long understood the power of the pause as an effective means of drawing out someone’s position. It is not always necessary to act, or speak, to advance your case. Sometimes a pause can interrupt a negotiating dynamic that is spiralling downwards to allow a “reset”. It can also allow all involved a period to reflect on their positions in a more careful manner, without the need to justify, defend or point score.
If you are in the habit of drawing up lists of possible strategies for clients and “do nothing” doesn’t routinely appear on your lists, even if only to be rejected, then you are potentially denying your client access to one of the simplest and most efficient solutions available to them. Often the hardest – but best - advice to sell to a client is that they should take no action. I can think of several cases of my own that might fall into that category. Can you identify any of yours?