How to Fail at Being Persuasive.
More individuals now have a chance to be heard because to the proliferation of social media and the internet. This is, in general, a positive development. Normal folks like you and me now have the opportunity to communicate our ideas to a wider audience.
In this brave new world, it is possible for both good and evil to reach millions of people at once. Perspectives that are thoughtless and ignorant coexist alongside those that are insightful and knowledgeable.
As a content producer on the internet, I have a genuine interest in reflective individuals who are motivated to bring about constructive change in the wider world. I do not give a damn about the irate trolls who are unable to accept the fact that their life has not turned out the way they had anticipated.
However, even individuals who are conscientious and have good intentions often participate in communication that is counterproductive online.
In their quest to bring about constructive change, they use strategies that cause division among the populace and foster hatred. And it is not a positive development at all.
In the following paragraphs, I will discuss five popular strategies that should be avoided if you wish to spread ideas and bring attention to concerns.
Assuming That They Have Evil Intentions
“Make a sincere effort to see things from the perspective of the other person,” as Dale Carnegie once said.
Imagine that it’s a slow Friday afternoon, and you’re heading home from work in your car. The horn of the automobile behind you starts beeping. The other individual veers around you and dashes away quickly.
You’re thinking to yourself, “What the hell? Why is that man getting so worked up? Asshole.”
That kind of reaction is typical. It was later discovered that this “asshole” was really on his way to the hospital to see his wife. She made an effort to kill herself, and it’s possible that she won’t make it.
After you have a better understanding of the circumstances behind his reckless driving, you may feel greater sympathy for him. Even if you won’t be thrilled with the fact that he cut you off, you could decide that he’s not such an awful guy after all.
The issue is that you very seldom have this context. You never find out why individuals say or do things; you just see them doing them. Therefore, in order to fill in the blanks, you develop assumptions. You are correct on occasion, but more often than not, you are incorrect.
People who are as nerdy as I am refer to this as the basic attribution fallacy. We have a propensity to attribute other people’s behaviors to their personalities rather than the circumstances that they are experiencing in their life.
When you witness a motorist acting erratically, you automatically conclude that person is careless. You don’t make the assumption that he’s a man who’s thinking about whether or not he’ll ever speak to the woman he loves again.
This scenario plays out all the time in the realm of online gaming. You come across a tweet, video, or statement that sparks an emotional response from you:
“HOW WAS HE ABLE TO DO THAT?”
It’s conceivable that you were right to trust your first impression of the individual; maybe they’re just a terrible actor.
On the other hand, it’s likely that you’re not taking into account the relevant background. When it comes to making correct judgments about other people, you almost never have all of the relevant backgrounds at your disposal.
Don’t get me wrong. Bringing the actions of malicious individuals to light is a commendable thing to do. But do a little diligence. Take a minute to collect your thoughts before meeting the individual for the first time after you’ve formed your first impression of them.
Check to see whether you’re missing any crucial context. Ask yourself whether there is anybody else who would benefit from portraying this person in a poor light except you. Even if you may not always be able to gather the information you want, you can try to be more mindful.
The most important thing to keep in mind when criticizing someone is the possibility that you might not have all of the facts. How exactly can you get the whole narrative? Be open-minded. Ask questions. Be conscious of the prejudices you have.
The feedback that is Poorly Constructed and Presented
Feedback comes in often from subscribers to my weekly email. There are some individuals who are good at it while others are not. One reader, who will be referred to only as “Robin,” provided the following example of thoughtful comments.
Where is Robin getting at with this? Don’t cuss since it shows your lack of maturity!
Robin did an excellent job of conveying her views to me in a format that was easy for me to understand. She complimented the concepts, pointed up a potential weak spot, and expressed gratitude to me for the work that I perform.
The reason why her message is so powerful is that she addresses me by taking into account the viewpoint that I hold. As the author of a newsletter, one of my goals is to provide readers with information that is both beneficial and interesting.
Robin shared with me that in her opinion, using profanity is probably not the best method to accomplish what I want to do. In addition, she expressed her appreciation for my efforts, which made me feel appreciated for spending the time to compose the newsletter.
Robin prompted me to give greater thought to the context in which I use profanity in my writing as well as the reasons behind my usage of such language.
In a parallel universe, Robin may have said something along the lines of,
“What’s up, Calvin? I was really dismayed to see that your newsletter included profanity, since doing so demonstrates a lack of maturity and is not an efficient method of communication. I was hoping to see more from you.
That would have been a far simpler message for Robin to give, and I have actually gotten messages just like this one in the past.
If we are being completely transparent, we continue to get the same comments. However, if she had approached the situation in this manner, I would not have been able to receive her message and would not have contemplated altering my behavior.
Without context, I would not have been able to comprehend that she wished to assist me in improving my job.
I would not have gotten the impression that she enjoyed reading the newsletter. Therefore, I would have disregarded her criticism and suggested that she cancel her subscription if she was unhappy with the content that she was getting.
We are fortunate that Robin used a more productive strategy.
The most important thing to remember is to model what Robin does if you want other people to comprehend and pay attention to what you have to say. Consider the environment in which the individual lives. Don’t jump to conclusions about people’s motives. Manifest your gratitude. A willingness to listen is required.
Validating the experience of another person
“Show that you appreciate the other person’s right to have their own views. You should never tell someone, “You’re incorrect.” — Dale Carnegie
Invalidate the experience of another person if you want them to stop listening to what you have to say.
Take for instance the position of a low-income white guy living in the United States. You’ve just just been laid off, and you’re worried about how you’ll afford to keep your children fed.
Your wife has also conveyed to you that she wants to end the marriage. You can say something like, “Life is difficult, and I’m really having a tough time. I have no idea how I’m going to make it through this.”
There are some individuals who, in response, will say something along the lines of, “Are you kidding me…you’re whining as a white male? Do you understand that some individuals have not have the same opportunities that you do?
These individuals often have good intentions in mind. They want this individual to comprehend the advantages that come with the fact that he is of a specific race and gender. That is a reasonable objective, but the strategy being used here is one that will work against achieving that objective.
Even if this individual is a white man with some advantages, he is in a precarious position nevertheless. He is very poor and has no idea how he can provide for his family’s nutritional needs. The lady he loves has decided to end their relationship. He is in a lot of pain.
His anguish, particularly in his own eyes, is quite genuine and significant. Even if there is someone else who may have a hand of cards that is even worse than his, it does not help him feel any better about his own.
Therefore, when you advise him to check his privilege, he has the impression that he is not being heard or respected. He feels resentment. He does not absorb the information that you want for him to acquire.
To devalue the experience of someone who is actually hurting should be the very last thing you do to that person.
It is one thing to advise a buddy who is griping about a late Uber Eats driver to stop griping about something that is so ridiculous. But it is quite another thing to do it yourself. That’s not a problem.
It is one thing to tell a person who is going through something difficult like a divorce, PTSD, poverty, or a cancer diagnosis that his problems aren’t as bad or valid as someone else’s problems; it is an entirely different thing to tell that person that his problems aren’t as bad or valid as someone else’s problems. This strategy will only serve to stoke the flames of hatred.
The most effective way to alleviate pain is via compassion. And because compassion is not a competition with a winner and a loser, it should be shared broadly.
The most important thing to remember is that it is counterproductive to give relative value to the pain of other people. Compassion is the proper reaction to someone who is going through the difficulty of coping with actual challenges such as poverty.
Being Unwilling To Listen
“People are kind to those who pay attention to them, appreciate what they have to say, and seek their advice,” Determine what the other person is thinking and feeling, as well as how they see the scenario and the images that are running through their brains. — Dale Carnegie
People sometimes voice their thoughts on others or things without allowing the subject of those comments the opportunity to reply to those opinions. You definitely have the ability to accomplish so; yet, doing so would be self-serving and inefficient.
Imagine that I had a falling out with my wife. I let her know why I’m angry, and after I’m through letting her know why I’m thinking what I’m thinking, I walk away feeling relieved that I let off some steam by expressing my feelings to her.
What do you think she is going to think if I don’t give her the opportunity to reply to what I say? Especially in the event that I misread both her acts and her intentions, she is quite likely to feel both wounded and unheard.
If you want to get people interested in what you have to say and get them to see things from your point of view, you have to be prepared to listen just as much as you are eager to talk. They will not alter their behavior if you do not take this step.
Education and conversation are the paths that lead to advances in thinking. Conversations that are challenging and time-consuming are the only things that have ever caused me to alter my view about anything.
The most important thing to remember is that in order to persuade someone that a concept or cause you care about is important, you must patiently undertake the job of educating that person. Listening is far more important than talking when it comes to education and transformation.
Reducing the Impact of Positive Events
Change happens gradually, and if you want to encourage people to act in a certain manner, you need to provide them with incentives whenever they engage in behaviors that you value and consider to be positive.
Imagine that I announce to my staff at work that I welcome their comments and suggestions. Therefore, if they have a comment or suggestion, they are free to share it with me.
Then, after giving a significant presentation, one of my coworkers approaches me and says, “Hey, nice presentation, but I believe you could have said [x] more clearly and answered to inquiries from [y] with more detail.”
My reaction has to be carefully considered if I am going to successfully cultivate an environment that values ongoing input and improvement.
The appropriate answer is to express gratitude to the individual for providing feedback, to inquire about any points that were unclear, and to alter my conduct over time if it makes sense to do so. By using this strategy, the individual will feel more at ease providing me with feedback once again.
I have only very seldom seen someone perform that beautifully. Receiving negative comments may be difficult, and at times it can even be harmful.
Therefore, rather of properly accepting the input, many individuals either disregard what is stated or attempt to defend why it is incorrect.
It is not impossible for the individual who is providing you with feedback to be incorrect. If you respond negatively to what they have to say, though, you will no longer get feedback.
The other person won’t get the impression that you genuinely have an open mind, and they won’t put themselves through the hassle of giving you more criticism in the future.
In a nutshell, the behavior that you wish to encourage has not been rewarded in any way. Therefore, there will be no more occurrences of that activity.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that both progress and change occur in baby steps if you want other people to contribute more to a cause that you care about.
One should always strive to take baby steps in the correct direction since they often result in larger steps farther down the road. Stay away from the urge to inform someone that their efforts weren’t sufficient. Reward them for the wonderful activities they have taken.
A Few Parting Thoughts
In order to bring about a good change, whether it is via the dissemination of ideas or the elevation of causes, you need to understand how to make others care. It is not sufficient just to have honorable intentions or to be an educated participant. It is unrealistic to believe that other people would care just because you do.
Awareness is the first step in becoming a more influential and constructive force in the world. You have to be conscious of the things that are important to you, why they are significant, and how they connect to other people. The next step is to begin the lifetime adventure of assisting others in comprehending and believing in what it is you wish to alter in the world.
This is not a simple task to do at all. It requires bravery to rethink your original conclusions. Providing feedback in a manner that is both constructive and helpful requires effort.
It needs compassion to listen attentively to the pain of another person and to react in an appropriate manner to that suffering. It requires patience to gradually encourage positive behavior over a period of time.
But rest assured that your condition will gradually improve. In addition to this, the results of your labor will have a greater influence. If the job that you do really assists other people, then it is a positive thing for the whole planet.
These are some pointers for those who are interested in contributing to the solution. Ignore what I’ve stated if you really want to contribute to the issue, but everyone else should pay attention.