A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Monday, March 06, 2017

The Art of Persuasion Is Not About "Winning" Arguments

from David R. Henderson:
How should believers in freedom try to persuade other people to share their beliefs? Many people believe that they should come up with good arguments, great examples, and moving stories. All of those work-- some of the time.

Are there other ways of persuasion that work? I think so. One way, paradoxically, is to give up trying to persuade and instead ask questions. Another way is to settle for one tenth of a loaf. But first, let's consider why it's so hard to persuade our fellow humans.

Libertarians face the same problem faced by anyone who tries to change people's minds: most people are strongly attached to their ideas. Michael Walker, formerly the executive director of Canada’s Fraser Institute, once recounted to me a conversation he had had with Friedrich Hayek. Michael had told Hayek how frustrated he was that some of his best logic and evidence seemed to fall on deaf ears. Hayek smiled as if he had heard that complaint hundreds of times. He probably had. Then he said, "One of people's most treasured forms of private property is their ideas. So when you convince them that an idea they had was wrong, you have caused them to suffer a capital loss."

There's a lot to that. I rarely run into people who, when convinced that something they believed was wrong, react with delight. There’s usually some degree of mourning for their "capital loss."

That suggests that, at a minimum, you should try to persuade people gently: let them realize their capital loss gradually.

But there's more to say. One thing I've noticed over the years is that effective persuaders often sway others indirectly, simply by asking good questions.
The entire post can be read here.

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