However, when it comes to convincing others to join our side of an argument, most of us do a…how do I put this lightly?… an absolutely horrendous job.
We as humans are wired to believe the way we think just has to be the right way — after all, we wouldn’t think something if we believed we were incorrect, right? So our thoughts have to be the correct ones…right?
Ideas, beliefs, and habits can get us fired up — as we’ve clearly seen enough examples of in 2017.
But most of the time what we find is this:
When describing the things that get us fired up, not everyone around us will get as fired up as we are (and usually it is not even close).
This means we are not persuading in a way that is convincing enough for others to join our frame of thought.
So why do people not care as much as you do?
Let’s have an example first.
I have friends who are gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan, and they all have their reasons for doing so. Most are okay with (or at least tolerant of) the fact that I eat both gluten and meat just about every day, but every now and then they will try to convince me to join the bark side (that was a plant joke; sort of a stretch).
The reality is, I just don’t care as much as they do and the reason is simple:
I haven’t had the same experiences in my life as they have had.
Some of my gluten-free friends are simply gluten intolerant. They get ill when they consume gluten, which means they have an obvious reason to be passionate about a gluten-free diet. This is something to which I cannot relate.
Some of my vegan friends care deeply about animal treatment. This can be for a lot of reasons, but one of those reasons might be that they had pets growing up that they cared for deeply. I grew up with family members who hunted and fished regularly — this sets a different frame of reference.
Now please don’t get distracted and think this is a blog about gluten-free or vegetarian diets, celiac disease, or animal rights/cruelty — it is not.
This blog is about why others don’t care about certain ideas, beliefs, or habits as much as you do, and how you can be more persuasive.
The foundational point is this:
At the core of what we care about are the experiences we’ve had.
No one will care exactly like you do about anything because no one has lived exactly like you have.
I say this for two reasons — please keep these in mind if trying to persuade.
- Using your personal bias typically doesn’t help.
This would be like a manager saying, “Hey employee, you should work really hard because if you hit your numbers, I’m going to get a huge bonus at the end of the year.” The manager’s enormous bonus isn’t going to do much to motivate the employee (it actually might make the employee work less hard out of spite).
- Gaining understanding helps others care.
Knowing what others care about will help you tailor your message. While my gluten-free friends may not get very far telling me about how gluten is terrible for people with celiac disease (which I do not have), they might strike a chord if they talked about nutritional benefits that lead to a healthier lifestyle, higher energy levels, and increased athletic performance. When they have aligned what they care about with what I care about, they are more likely to persuade me to shift my perspective.
No matter what it is you care deeply about, you cannot expect others to care about it in the same way you do. If you are looking to convince others to care, keep in mind they have not experienced what you have experienced.
Your best ally in persuasion is asking questions.
Once you find out what others care about, you can present your passions in a way that might inspire them (even if you’re presenting a piece of the equation that is not most inspiring to you personally).
People may not care as much as you do about the important topics in your life, but if you are looking to be persuasive, check your personal bias, find out what others care about, and push yourself to speak to their passions.
You will always win more people to your way of thinking when you align your passions with theirs.
What ideas, beliefs, and habits are you passionate about and how are you bringing them into the world? It’s worth a short evaluation — you may make a small adjustment that helps you win over the skeptics with whom you interact every day.
Why the First Can’t be Solved Without the Latter.
No conflict can be solved without communication.
This is a short post because the main point is in the first line.
To bring this point home, I offer you a short story.
Devin recently graduated from college and is eager to excel in his new position. He is motivated and wants to have an impact on the company.
Devin’s boss, Jeff, has been with the company for 22 years. He knows how things operate at the company and has grown accustomed to the process he has built over time.
After several months in the position, Devin begins to feel frustrated because his ideas seem to constantly be overlooked. He was hoping to contribute big things right away, but it seems as though no one is interested in trying anything new.
Jeff is frustrated too. While Devin is doing a good job in his role, he is constantly questioning the process that Jeff has been using for 22 years.
In this scenario, both the boss and the employee are frustrated. This frustration is leading to tension in the workplace; so much so that Devin has begun looking for a new job.
So what should they do?
The answer is simple, but not easy. They should communicate.
There is no clear cut answer for this scenario. This is why effective communication becomes so vital.
Devin may sit down with Jeff and say, “Jeff, I respect your knowledge of the business, and would love to sit down with you once a week to learn from you.”
In this way, Devin can bring his ideas to the weekly conversation in a non-aggressive way. He could say, “I had an idea that could potentially improve our business; I’d like to run it by you because I’m sure you have insights that I’m missing.”
Similarly, Jeff could check in with Devin and become a more active manager. He could say, “Devin, let’s sit down once every two weeks to just check in. You can bring thoughts my way, and I’ll listen. Keep in mind, we may not use them, but it will be helpful to discuss.”
By doing this, Jeff is letting Devin know that his thoughts are valued, even if they are not acted upon. He can also use this time to teach Devin more about the business so his ideas are more aligned with the 22-year-old process he has already established.
However, if neither Devin nor Jeff approach each other for a conversation, the tension in the office will continue to grow. Devin will feel under-appreciated, and Jeff will write off Devin as someone who can’t “get with the program.”
This is just one example of conflict resolution. There are thousands of examples out there. But one thing remains true through them all:
No conflict can be solved without communication.