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.
How an old man’s bizarre move brightened the world for one short moment.
Last summer, I was walking in a park and something very bizarre happened.
I had been sitting at a picnic table reading. It was a beautiful day — one of those days that brings a small smile to your face whether you notice it’s there or not.
After reading for some time, I started to head home. I stepped on the sidewalk near the picnic table and began walking through the park back to where I had parked (no “park” pun intended).
An old black man was on a stroll on the sidewalk about ten feet in front of me. He must have been in his upper 60’s or early 70’s. His shoulders bent forward naturally and he walked slowly.
I wasn’t in a hurry so we were walking at about the same pace. As the man walked, he glanced back and saw me casually walking behind him. He looked forward, took a few steps, then looked back again. A part of me was thinking, why does this guy keep looking at me?
Then he did something completely unexpected.
The old man stopped walking, put his hands above his head, then DID A CARTWHEEL on the sidewalk!
I was so taken aback I stopped walking and just stared at him. My small smile turned to a look of confusion as my brain was trying to put together what had just happened.
He stuck the landing, and we stared at each other for a brief moment, him with the small smile that had previously belonged to me and me with a look of bewilderment. After just staring at each other for a moment, he smugly broke the silence. All he said was:
“I bet you didn’t think I could do that.”
I didn’t know what to say. It was too strange. I was caught off guard. I managed to just say, “Nope. I didn’t.”
He gave a nod and a smile, then turned and continued walking. Within a minute or two, he turned to go a different direction and I headed toward my car.
Have you ever been completely by yourself and laughed so hard you cried (then hoped no one was watching you)? This is what happened as soon as I closed my car door. I felt like the Chewbacca Lady. The encounter was so random, it just got the best of me.
To be honest with you, I just wanted to tell you this story because it was a little crazy and I don’t think it happens every day. But when I think about it, there are some cool takeaways that can be drawn from it.
I’m sure you could come up with some of your own, but my takeaways are these:
· You have the ability to brighten others’ days
· Age may not be a choice, but “Old” is a choice. Stay youthful!
· Random acts of joy may be just what we need now and then
I’m going to chalk this up as a bizarre, once-in-a-lifetime moment, but a part of me wants to believe that this old man spends his days walking around parks doing cartwheels for unsuspecting bystanders — bringing joy into the world one cartwheel at a time.
It’s not a likely scenario, but who knows? The world needs a few more cartwheels and maybe this old man knows it.
So if you happen to see an old man doing cartwheels in a park, please walk up to him with a small smile on your face and casually say, “I didn’t think you could do that,” then simply walk away.
(and also let me know because it would make my day).
…What can you do to stay motivated?
No one can be self-motivated all the time. Life gets in the way. People get in the way. Sometimes we get in our own way.
We need outside influences to pick us up and help us out.
But for some reason, there is this thought floating around that we need to do it ourselves. That waking up to work out is our personal responsibility. That a lack of motivation is solely our issue. That we are lone wolves.
PLEASE DON’T THINK LIKE THIS!
You are not a wolf. You are a human. And humans need help.
I post motivational tid-bits on Snapchat every day (feel free to add me if you’d like. My username is KyleWillkom), but some days, the motivation works in the other direction. Some days, I’m the one who needs the motivation.
When I come across those days, I do something a lot of people have closed themselves off to doing — I ask for help.
I put my needs into the world, and let people know that I’m tired or feeling lazy or riding the struggle bus.
Rocky Balboa is a great example of this. The guy was a nobody until he was chosen (randomly) to fight against Apollo Creed.
Did he all-of-a-sudden, out-of-nowhere, become great on his own? No way!
He worked his butt off with his trainer, Mick. He had a supportive wife (YO ADRIAN, I DID IT!!!). He even partnered with Apollo after the initial fight to be better later on.
He allowed the people around him to build him up and motivate him when he couldn’t do it on his own, and you should too.
I’m not saying crazy amounts of motivation will all of a sudden flow in from every angle once you ask for help, but when I’ve asked, typically I get some words of encouragement from unexpected places.
I’ve had people I haven’t talked to in years send me motivational quotes and videos. Most of them tell me that they have been following my journey for a while and have been meaning to reach out.
This type of interaction pumps me up!
And at the core of this is the realization that I cannot stay motivated on my own, and neither can you.
When you need a pick-me-up or some extra words of encouragement (or even if you need something totally unrelated to motivation), put it into the world. Tell people what you need. Ask for help.
You may just get the unexpected positive response you were needing all along.
And just like Rocky, you may become the stallion you always knew you could be.