Gist and woffle

Two previous posts (learn to type and laptops in the tribunal)
suggest that it’s useful to be able to take typed notes of evidence during hearings. This is about one of the reasons why that is so.

If your typing speed is up to it, a lot of the time you will be able to capture most of the actual words spoken by the witnesses. If you’re taking notes on paper, unless you have shorthand skills, you’ll just be writing down the gist.

Sometimes the gist is good enough. But when a witness is hedging and evading, there often isn’t any gist. That’s the point. The interesting thing about their answer to the particular question is that they don’t have an answer.

Here’s a comparison drawn pretty much from life. First, the typed note of what the witness actually said:

Q: It was a make believe project wasn’t it?

A: What I mean by that in terms of his job responsibilities but also if you look at job responsibilities that doesn’t expand his management of projects which is what he said he was looking to do. I didn’t give him make believe projects. To make it a little bit easier to understand this was an area that was new technology, if I am in my current job I could look at different things there was lots of different new things coming in. I’m looking at the other managers, the projects and he had great visibility. It’s an opportunity to really grasp some of these projects that was given him to do.

If you were taking a manuscript note of evidence like this, you’d probably not have got much more than:

Q: It was a make believe project wasn’t it?

A: No

The latter is far too kind – and not in a good way. When it comes to closing submissions, being able to remind the tribunal just how much meaningless noise a witnes has made by quoting bits of their woffle word-for-word can be very powerful.

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