If you want to change someone’s mind on the topic, you probably feel like the only thing you really need is evidence. However, to really get through to someone, you need equal parts empathy and persistence in that equation.
Photo by Oregon Department of Transportation.
The problem with convincing someone else to change their minds is that most of us are inherently resistant to admitting we’re wrong. Sometimes, that’s good! If we gave up our beliefs every time someone linked an article that sounded legit, we’d essentially have no beliefs at all. The downside to this is that it can take a while for us to change our minds about a topic.
That’s why, as productivity writer Seth Godin points out, evidence isn’t the only thing you need to change the minds of those around you. You also need empathy so you can see where they’re coming from, and persistence to keep the conversation going even when it feels like you should just give up.
For the rest of us, though, the flip isn’t something that happens at the first glance or encounter with new evidence. This doesn’t mean the evidence doesn’t matter. It means that we’re bad at admitting we were wrong. Bad at giving up one view of the world to embrace the other. Mostly, we’re bad at abandoning our peers, our habits and our view of ourselves.
If you want to change people’s minds, you need more than evidence. You need persistence. And empathy. And mostly, you need the resources to keep showing up, peeling off one person after another, surrounding a cultural problem with a cultural solution.
Part of the process of practicing empathy and persistence, naturally, is that you might also open yourself up to being convinced as well. This is also good. The more you talk reasonably with someone that you empathise with, the more likely you both might come to a mutual conclusion. In a healthy debate, all three elements are present. Take one away and it can cycle down to fights, polarization, and a mess of self-reinforcing echo chamber bubbles that hate each other.
The flip is elusive [Seth Godin]