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.
As a culture, we are obsessed with shortcuts. I’ve read all the headlines:
- Become a Millionaire in Two Weeks!
- Get a Summer Body with This Secret Formula!
- Earn Passive Income While You Sleep!
We’ve all learned to spot a scam or become skeptical when something seems too good to be true. Most of the time, shortcuts don’t exist. We need to put in the time and energy to achieve what we’ve set out to achieve.
I say this because what I’m about to share with you is not a shortcut. I don’t believe in shortcuts. I do, however, believe in efficiencies, which is why I’m writing this for you.
A shortcut is magical (like a unicorn), an efficiency is precise. There isn’t mystery behind these efficiencies which may take away some of the allure, but I promise you they work.
Do you want to learn more in 6 minutes than in 6 months? Here’s how:
A book called The Talent Code reveals an in-depth study on why some people become more talented than others. A key component of the formula is “Deep Practice.”
We’ve all heard that 10,000 hours working on a craft makes us proficient.
The issue is that this statement is not true. The only time this becomes true is if those 10,000 hours are spent in “Deep Practice” – pushed to the limit of our capabilities.
If I draw stick figures for 10,000 hours, I won’t be any closer to being an artist. It is not the drawing that matters, it is the fact that I’m working on improving my drawing with each piece. It is the idea that I am working to get better with everything I put on paper.
Learning to practice deeply will ensure you learn extremely quickly. How do you ensure your practice is “Deep Practice?” I’m glad you asked.
Below is my three-step formula for deep practice that will allow you to learn quicker in any discipline.
- Remove ALL distractions
We do not grow when we are only giving a part of our brain to a subject matter. Put your phone away (completely away; no exceptions). If you’re doing something that just involves sitting and learning (like a language), don’t listen to music or have the TV on in the background. If you’re doing something more active (like learning a sport), don’t pause workouts for conversations with other people in the gym or on the field. Focus all your attention on improving your craft. Some people say, “Well, I learn better with the TV on in the background.”
No, you don’t. You’ve conditioned yourself to think this way. It might be difficult for you to turn the tv off and focus solely on your subject matter, but like I said, these aren’t shortcuts. You will learn quicker when your subject matter has your full attention.
- Be Intentional
We truly improve when we want to learn something SPECIFIC. If you’re learning piano, choose a specific scale or song, and focus your attention on learning it; do not simply sit down and play leisurely if your intention is to improve.
If you’re a basketball player, choose a move and perfect it; do not simply shoot around or play in pick-up games.
When we are unfocused, we don’t improve. We could be in the weight room every day, but if we spend that time talking with friends, we aren’t any closer to our goals. Our specific actions matter (which is why seven minute abs became such a phenomenon…a program that made people actually work hard for 7 minutes, instead of giving 10 percent effort for two hours in a gym).
When we’re specific about what we’re learning, we are much more likely to quickly become proficient.
- Don’t Allow Yourself to Fail
The title of this section is misleading. What I mean by this is: every time you make a mistake, stop and do it again.
If you are learning to play guitar and you have chosen the specific song you want to learn, do not let yourself move forward playing it wrong. Train your brain and your body to do things the right way. You are not improving if you make a mistake and continue playing the rest of the song. Stop, go back, and do it again until you’ve perfected that part of the song.
You only improve when you stop and do it right. Continuing with the song would only train you to believe that mediocre is acceptable. When you actually want to learn and grow, mediocre is not an option.
When you remove distractions, act intentionally, and train yourself to get every little piece exactly right, you will learn incredibly quickly.
This is how we must practice if we truly want to learn more in 6 minutes than 6 months. Train yourself to focus. Train yourself to master specifics. Train yourself to not just go through the motions.
It may still take you 10,000 hours to become a master, but your progress will be noticeable…unlike your friends who are still looking for the secret formula for that ever-elusive summer body.
As always, let me know how it goes for you.
When I was a sophomore in college, I had the chance to meet Mark Cuban. Yes, the billionaire entrepreneur turned Shark Tank star, Mark Cuban. He had just spoken at an event in Milwaukee, and I caught him for a moment afterwards to ask him a question.
“What would you say to young people who are starting to establish their personal brand?”
That was my question. I remember being proud of it. As a sophomore in college, I felt it was a good question that would allow him to give me some pointers on building a future in business.
His response was one I was not ready for and one I’ll never forget:
“Drink more PBR.”
There was an awkward pause as I just looked at him, confused. I was relieved that he didn’t stop talking there.
“Everyone is walking around making all of their decisions based on what other people think. Stop judging yourself by other peoples’ standards. Take a step back, have a beer, or a few beers, be yourself and don’t worry so much about your personal brand.”
Then he asked me a question.
“How old are you?”
“You have plenty of time to grow up and worry about your personal brand. Enjoy your time with your friends. Enjoy the college experience. Take everything in now. You have your whole life to be boring.”
That’s some pretty cool advice that has stuck with me through the years.
However, what I’m not sure Mark Cuban realized when he was saying this is, everything he said is exactly what makes up a personal brand.
A personal brand is simply the thoughts, feelings, and emotions that others have when they think of you. While I don’t condone underage drinking (for the younger folks reading this), being easy-going, valuing friendships, and enjoying life are all great things to be known for. What seemed almost like “anti-advice” was actually a pretty solid personal branding nugget.
I think my biggest takeaway from meeting Mark Cuban was this:
Have the confidence to be yourself; it will take you a long way.
Spending time worrying about what other people think can deter you from achieving what you’re meant to achieve. Be yourself. Go for it. Who knows? Your original self may just get you further than you would have gotten otherwise. Apparently Mark Cuban made a billion dollars while drinking PBR. Who says you can’t be next?
I’ve heard it a million times…
“I’m just trying to get out of the day-to-day routine.”
Believe it or not, the routine is not the enemy.
The idea of doing things the same way has gotten an unwarranted negative stigma, especially if the way things are being done is efficient and effective.
There is precision in repetition.
There is a reason a basketball player shoots 50 free-throws in practice, a reason the assembly line revolutionized the auto industry, and a reason establishing a routine in your daily life will prove beneficial.
Routines get a bad reputation because people tend to get stuck in them. If routines are consistently updated, and flexibility and innovation are top priorities, that issue no longer exists.
Everything from managing your work time to organizing the sequence of events you go through to get ready in the morning can benefit from consistency. Routines matter.
So here are three things to consider when looking to set a productive routine:
- The better you can be at establishing a process, documenting the process, and following the steps each time, the more efficient you will become.
- The better you are at setting non-interrupted work times with specific outcomes in mind, the more focused and results-oriented you will become.
- And the better you get at planning your spontaneity, the more enjoyable it will be knowing that all your other tasks and timelines are right where they need to be.
As you push yourself to build an effective routine, keep in mind the famous words of Aristotle:
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.