Blog Post # 288 – Effect on the Hearer

When I attended law school, one of my favorite classes was Evidence.

In Evidence, you learned about all of the rules of evidence. The rules of evidence govern what gets presented to the jury and what gets excluded.

About 25 percent of the class focuses on hearsay, which is an out of court statement offered for the truth of the matter asserted in the statement.

Think of a witness in the witness box discussing a conversation that she had with the defendant.

Fun stuff, huh?

Anyway, one important concept in hearsay is actually an exception to the hearsay rule which is when you offer the statement not for the truth contained in the statement, but rather for the “effect on the hearer.”

Effect on the hearer.

Twenty years out of law school, I still think about the effect on the hearer.

But not in the context of trial work.

I often ask myself when I say something unkind or harsh – I wonder what the effect on the hearer is following my statement.

The phrase stuck with me because “hearer” is such a strange word that we don’t use in normal conversation.

We have hearers all around us – clients, lovers, parents, children, strangers.

And our words have “effect.” Effect on the hearer.

The effect of building the hearer up or beating them down.

Words and effects.

Words are very powerful. Just think of harsh things that people said to you years ago that you still remember.

They had an effect on you.

For today, let us picture our words. Let us envision our words traveling from our lips into the ears of those around us. Let us think before we speak.

And instead of hate or anger or frustration, to express love and respect.