It can be daunting to think that the biggest decisions regarding your divorce could come down to the opinion of one person: your divorce court judge. His or her verdict could be the final word on such matters as distribution of assets, financial responsibility, custody of the children, etc. Gaining the judge’s favor can make a significant impact on the outcome of your divorce, but persuasion is a subtle art. How do you persuade your divorce court judge without trying too hard? Let’s take our cue from six people considered masters at the art of persuasion.

1. Dean Rusk, U.S. Secretary of State for Presidents Kennedy and Johnson

“One of the best ways to persuade others is with your ears—by listening to them.”

When the person you’re trying to persuade feels like you’re listening to them, he/she is naturally inclined to reciprocate. Wise words from a man who was Secretary of State during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

2. Benjamin Franklin, American statesman

“If you would persuade, you must appeal to interest rather than intellect.”

Presenting a rational argument isn’t always enough; “appealing to interest” has more to do with reading between the lines and learning to speak the other person’s language.

3. Edward R. Murrow, American journalist

“To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful.”

Honesty is a key to any persuasive argument. If the divorce court judge believes for a minute that you’re hiding something, your chances of favor dwindle considerably.

4. Thomas Carlyle, British essayist

“Let one who wants to move and convince others, first be convinced and moved themselves. If a person speaks with genuine earnestness the thoughts, the emotion and the actual condition of their own heart, others will listen because we all are knit together by the tie of sympathy.”

Personal conviction in your appeal is a key to persuasion. In a word: be genuine.

5. Blaise Pascal, French philosopher

“People are usually more convinced by reasons they discovered themselves than by those found out by others.”

The takeaway here is to present the facts in such a way that the judge arrives at the same conclusion you did.

6. Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States 1861-1865

“If you wish to win a man over to your ideas, first make him your friend.”

Spoken by a man who convinced a deeply divided Congress to ratify the Emancipation Proclamation, abolishing slavery in the United States.