You can’t make someone listen


There are a bucketful of different techniques to persuade people towards your point of view. You can appeal to their social needs – their desire to belong, to fit in, to be appreciated. You can appeal to their financial needs – make it worth their while to join you, or provide a disincentive for not joining you. You can show passion for your perspective, or for the people who would be affected. You can create a list of straight facts, allow them to absorb those facts and feel empowered by their self-driven realization that your viewpoint has merit. You can attack the opposing viewpoint, or perhaps attack the person themselves. (Hey, I didn’t say all these techniques were good ones.) And on and on.

What you can’t do is make someone listen.

If someone wants to shut themselves off from any opposing views, no amount of persuasion will make an iota of difference. And you’ll simply get increasingly frustrated if you keep trying to persuade. It’s like using a spoon to break through a brick wall. “You know what would work better? A bigger spoon.” No, friend, it won’t.

So when you’re not getting the response you want (and feel you deserve) from someone, it’s worth taking a step back and asking yourself: am I not being persuasive in the right ways, or is the other person simply not open to listening? Am I facing a spoon problem, or a wall problem?


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