I Double Dog Dare You

joe —  Sun 20-Jan-13

Wrong microphoneI am amazed at how many people want to convince me of something on a daily basis. Apparently, Manti T’eo is both a scum bucket and a naive deer in the woods. It looks as though guns are both good and bad (who would have thought?) I even have someone that that is trying to persuade me that the Hokey Pokey IS what it’s all about.

If you are one of those that would like to try and change my mind, great, I’m all ears. I will warn you up front, though, it’s very likely I won’t read what you post. It’s not the topic – it’s you.

Everyone has a filter that decides what to read and what to glance past. I’m guessing many people first look at the subject to decide if it is worth their time. For me, I look at the person making the pitch. Do they deserve a shot at convincing me? This may sound rather arbitrary, but it’s not. It’s not a personality contest. I don’t have to like them. I probably don’t agree with them. Those things are largely irrelevant. It’s all based on their past behavior.

I have a simple test. It’s really not that hard of a test, yet it still seems to weed out a significant part of my reading opportunities. In a nutshell, here are the four things I am looking for:

1. Are you a labeler?

Wash Your ButtDo you put everyone into either one side or the other? I get very cynical when I see “All of the liberals/democrats think …”, or giving the opposing side a label like “tree hugger”, or even “right wing.” You usually create two camps that I can’t see myself being a part of either one. If you put me in the camp you oppose, you are probably going to denigrate me. Why would I want to read that?

Putting people in boxes limits our ability to grasp the complexity of the problem and therefore the likelihood of a solution. If your posts regularly start with a label, I’ll probably not read any further.

2. Show me that you are open to persuasion by others.

Do you read my posts? I want to know that if I am open to your persuasion that I have an equal shot with you. Granted, I don’t feel a strong need to convince others of my beliefs, except maybe in this column. Even the Stranded Starfish articles are simply, as my friend Karen calls them, serving suggestions. I’d like to know that you have as much interest in my position as I do in yours. Persuasion is best when it is a dialogue of equals.

3. Show me a conversion.

Have you ever changed your mind from your original position as the result of someone’s post or link to an article? Marco poloIf you can’t be changed, then you cannot possibly understand me, for you are perfect and I am far from it. Again, persuasion is best when it is a dialog of equals.

4. Show me empathy.

Show me you can understand why I have my current position. If you want to convince me, you might want to know why I believe what I do. Not just “Yes, but.” I need to see a willingness to listen when I bring up a counter-point. If, while you are reading my response, you find yourself preparing your rebuttal rather than trying to truly understand why I would think this way, you are probably not on my list of preferred idea vendors.

I know this sounds like me, me, me. To be honest, I am rather uncomfortable writing this, as if believing that you care about my selection criteria should be important to you. But I don’t care if you convince me or not. You are the one trying to persuade. I just want to help you accomplish your goal.

If I can persuade you that this is a good way persuade others, you’ve got #2 down – and that’s a start.