We Need The Lost Art of Effective Persuasion Now More Than Ever

We Need The Lost Art of Effective Persuasion Now More Than Ever

Let’s start by accepting the fact that none of us have it all figured out, and we may be wrong on some issues.

Except for this blog, here we’re right about everything, right? (Only joking)

We’re in the midst of a communication revolution now that the internet has given everyone a platform to express their ideologies and cluster around them.  But it’s a growing problem that we prefer the comfort of our self-created echo chambers to the rest of the world and the diverse opinions offered.

We’re a stubborn species, so when someone comes along who violates the sanctity of our echo chamber with a differing thought, conversations quickly devolve into keyboard jousting, insults, and internet memes designed to save our pride rather than convince others beyond the trenches of our perspective.

So what can be done?

Blogger Ozan Varol has noticed the issue as well, and he makes an excellent point by saying it starts with the willingness to stop using our facts to persuade and cease chaining our beliefs to our identities.  “Facts” are only as factual as the sources we trust. Gambling on ourselves being right by literally defining who we are to a belief is a high-stakes game of self-vindication where anyone who disagrees with us is personally attacking us and not the idea.  This is why nobody changes their mind and frustrations eventually run as high as the insults.

Instead, let’s try giving each other (including ourselves) an out when it comes to our opinions. Strongly held beliefs are important, but when held loose enough we show an ability to change as well.  How can we possibly expect to have all the facts, all the information on a topic, all the insight and perspectives?  We’re not supercomputers capable of processing the sum of the internet, and neither is anybody else.  Degrading someone with different thoughts seems to forget that truth, and it’s not how we grow or develop.

If Varol’s article piqued your interest, communication scholars have created the Elaboration Likelihood Model as a way to explain the ways we process arguments and change our minds on issues as well.  Perhaps it’s worth comparing that model to Varol’s ideas or even your own thought processes.  Remember, we’re a social species, and highly adaptable too.  We shouldn’t be afraid to step outside our bubbles of comfort and embrace being wrong for the sake of discovering the truth of what’s right.