Being Persuasive3 min read

It is sometimes impossible to be both persuasive and expressive of 100% of our emotions and thoughts.

I am working on learning what thoughts are persuasive and what are compelling to me but not the majority of others. When communicating with others, we need to be clear to ourselves what our goals are. Are we trying to get someone to agree with us? Are we trying to express our feelings at any cost? Are we needing to do both?

I would say it is impossible to both express our feelings completely and persuade people in many situations. If I am trying to get someone to understand that yelling at their child is wrong I don’t start by telling them they are a terrible human being and I hope they rot in hell. If I am trying to express myself, telling them they suck is very valuable to me, though.

Separating out our actions so we can achieve our goals is important. There are different audiences and we need to remember that.

  • If I am talking to my brother whom I know very well, he has the full context of what I mean when I say simply “DOTA sucks” and then we immediately start playing DOTA.
  • If I am talking to another DOTA player, they have a lot of context when I say “DOTA sucks.” They can probably understand the sentiment and why it doesn’t matter that there are negatives about the experience of the game. However, many people would take that simple statement as an insult to something they love and become very defensive and even angry.
  • Telling a gamer that hasn’t played DOTA before that it sucks but I still play it, they will ask why I don’t play something better.
  • Telling someone who has never played video games in a consistent way that DOTA sucks, they would be concerned about my mental health for doing things that I dislike and am not paid for.

All of these audiences take my expressive message and internalize it and react differently to the same words. If I am trying to persuade someone that DOTA has flaws but is an awesome game, I need to know who my audience is in order to convince them that is true.

In this case, I can’t be persuasive and expressive in the same way with every audience. I think we generally acknowledge this in most areas of our life, but we have a really odd way of being expressive about politically charged topics as a society.

People become offended when people disagree with them. Instead of wondering if that audience doesn’t relate to the delivery, they assume that audience disagrees with them and must inherently be a “bad” person. This isn’t helpful.

Remember that everyone is a complicated person with their own thoughts, feelings, and biases. If you are trying to be persuasive, you often times cannot be as expressive.

This is the core of the “echo chamber” that social media creates. Everyone wants to be expressive in the same ways and either self selects for agreement or bans dissent. This winnowing of the group combined with confirmation bias and other biases over time creates a very extreme view of the world that often has its own language and coded meanings to every day words within that circle.

If you want to stop being persuasive, forming a group like this is a great way to do it. Dissent is essential to learning how to be persuasive. If you ban it, you will stop learning how to cope with it.

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