Monthly Archives: October 2015

How To Help People See Your Point of View

hawk and doveMy experience of American politics was my best teacher on the subject of helping others to see my point of view. It mainly taught me what NOT to do if I wanted people to see my point of view or if I wanted to understand theirs. Here are a few things guaranteed not to work: Judging, ridiculing, condemning and chastising. As tempting as these things can be in certain situations, they are not the answer to help people understand your perspective. Resist the urge to do these things, and choose a fresh alternative.

Some people may be ignorant, but they’re not dummies. As in, if you treat them as such your going to get a big fat, “f___  you.” And then they’ll likely do or say something to get right up your nose and saunter off, completely unmoved by any of your great points. Everyone loses. 

You can also yell and rant and rave and wave your arms around and get support from those who think just like you—but how is that a win for anyone? We used to call that “preaching to the choir”. It can be satisfying in a fleeting, temporary sort of way but it does nothing to create insight or change.

Singing to fellow Doves won’t attract Hawks. Unless they intend to eat our young.

You cannot sell someone anything unless you can see through their eyes, and understand why and how they think the way they do. You have to approach someone with a curious mind and really talk to them to be able to do this. You have to learn their language, at least to some extent.  

Example of singing to the doves:

“People who drink water from single use plastic bottles are stupid and selfish.”

(You can hear the cooing of fellow doves.)

Hawks reply, “I will eat you for breakfast. It won’t be pretty.”

Doves sing, “People who don’t shop at local shops and farmers’ markets are selfish idiots.”

And every dove in the vicinity sing,  “Yeah, yeah, oh yeah.”

And the hawks squawk, “F___ you, f___ you!”

And so it goes.

But let’s imagine a different scenario:

Instead of hurling insults or making the Hawks feel as though their morals and ethics are lacking in some way, the Doves listen thoughtfully to some of the Hawks concerns. Then, they might say to Hawk: “The better local merchants do, the more money will stay in our local economy and the more jobs they’ll supply locally. Maybe our kids will get jobs at their shop and learn a skill they can use later.” Maybe Dove will even mention that there is lots of congestion on our highways and pollution caused by transporting goods from far away places.  Then, Dove listens to Hawk’s response.

“What’s that? You don’t care about the pollution of transporting goods from out of country?” Then, Dove refrains from saying something like, “Well, that’s just stupid.” Instead, since the dialogue is now open and no one is shouting, Dove could say, Well, ok, but that’s giving the future of employment to other countries. Voting with our dollar/pound/euro shows the government where our priorities are, for ourselves, our country and for our children.”

Hawk may be quiet or maybe at a slight loss for words and so offers a slightly less raucous, “F___  you.” (But only one.)

Even if Dove doesn’t convince Hawk at the onset, something important and wonderful has happened. Dove and Hawk are talking to each other, looking one another in the eye, and listening to what is being said. No one has lost face.

We must first show respect to others, even if they think very differently from the way we think. Other people tend to view Earth ambassadors and eco-friendly people as uptight, superior-minded, judgmental, think-you’re-so-much-better-than-me, tree-huggers. I know this because I use to be one of those judgemental tree huggers. Back in ignorance. I am still a tree-hugger, but I am much less judgemental these days. I really am curious what makes people tick, what makes them do the things they do and think the way that they think. 

I’ve awakened and am now working to make up for my ignorant ways—people deserve to be listened to and respected. Sometimes, people can be barking mad and nothing you do or say will make any difference. Just move on from those people. But many more people, if treated with respect and interest, will also respect you and become interested in what you have to say. You lead by example, not with a club.

No one is perfect; nope, not even me or you. We’ll be better heard by not expecting it from others. I now “get” where ‘they’ come from and if I don’t, I make an honest effort to get them. I have never once convinced anyone of anything by shaming them or making them feel small. My guess is none of us have. 

Here’s some suggestions for creating a win/win situation with someone you find yourself in conflict with:

First: Stop getting so irate. It’s irritating. Even if the issue is a really big deal to you, remember that people shut down, fight or filter out if they feel challenged. Don’t argue. Do not be angry. Ask questions. Provide ‘alternate possibilities.’

Second: Offer supported, conflict-of-interest-free facts, facts, facts. Educate but don’t shame, belittle, or emasculate. 

Third: Find the ‘what’s in it for them.’ We need to drop our own agenda (ego) to figure out what’s important to them not for them.

Fourth: Celebrate every little, itty, bitty, teeny, weenie contribution. Not everyone will be ready to do an about-face and jump into your camp. But maybe they can move an inch towards your direction. But if they/we are rebuked for not being/doing good enough, we’ll revert back to f___ you very much.

Reminder: F___ you is not a win-win.

If we want to change the world we’ve got to do more of what works and less of what gets people worked up.

If we are mindful of others, and treat them with respect, we’ll be far more effective. Plus it just feels better, and that alone makes the world a better place.

What do you think? Please let me know by leaving a comment.