Surely you’ve heard the phrase, “You can catch more flies with honey." Well, a recent study confirmed something many successful negotiators already know: flattery, even when feigned, has value. For example, tell someone you like the way they dress or think they are smart, and they are more likely to look upon you favorably, even if they know you are being insincere. This approach, reports Scientific American, works because it feeds into the “above average effect," a view held by most people that they are above average (even though it is statistically impossible). Marketers have also long embraced this practice. In a different study, researchers in Hong Kong asked subjects to rate the appeal of a hypothetical new department store after looking at a promotional advertisement that directly praised the reader’s fashion sense. Even after acknowledging the flattery’s transparency, subjects rated the store more positively and said they were more likely to shop there. If someone tells us we look good, research says, we believe it, even if the smooth talker’s motivation is clear. Many elements impact the costs of a divorce. In nearly all cases, divorce attorneys bill by the hour. In Northern Virginia, the typical hourly rate for an experienced divorce attorney is between $250 and $650. The fewer issues on your proverbial “divorce table," the fewer hours your attorney will require to assist you and the lower your costs will be. Choose carefully the issues you intend to “take to the mat;" consider when to use your attorney and when to simply play nice. Pause and reflect for a moment before ending communications to your spouse with a pejorative comment or insult. Reasonable disagreements arise during every divorce and attorneys can play an integral role in presenting you position to a judge for determination. But, many issues can be resolved quickly, cheaply and (somewhat) painlessly by simply being cordial. Kindness, however, has its limits. When your issues have been suitably limited, take a moment to examine your retainer agreement. As a client (or potential client), it is unquestionably worth your time to read your retainer agreement and understand how you will be billed. For example, many attorneys have minimum time charges for certain tasks like travelling to court, drafting pleadings, leaving voicemails and such. If your attorney bills in .2/hour increments, it behooves you to stockpile your daily divorce issues into a single email or telephone call as opposed to writing him/her five separate emails or calling many, many times. Do your own “grunt work" like typing and copying. Give your attorney comments in “soft form" so he/she can cut and paste them as appropriate. There are many other ways to minimize your attorney’s fees and costs associated with divorce. If you have questions or comments about this topic, feel free to drop me a line
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