I remember my mother saying, “Convice a man against his will / And he is of the same opinion still!” It usually came out after a frustrating disagreement with my father. Not like that happened too regularly.
She had a point. People don’t change their grip on things easily. Let’s think about that.
Argumentation may win an argument but it seldom turns an oponent into a convert. So why would we try?
Many differences make no difference; they only represent inconsequential preferences. However, when you are close to the issue it may not seem so unimportant.
There are times when the issue is important. For example, consider that person in your field of relationships who simply doesn’t “get” the Gospel? It is important that you use every means at your disposal to persuade. “Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others.” (2 Corinthians 5:11)
Here are 10 tips for you. But let me first warn you that this takes emotional discipline on your part to use them.
- Understand that people make their decisions based on emotion and then attempt to justify the decision with logic.
- If you cannot get a person to loosen their emotional grip on a position they aren’t going to change their position.
- If you tell the person their position is only based on emotion you will lose every time.
- In an argument — scratch that — discussion, always do your best to understand the other person’s view before you attempt to explain your own.
- Let the other person finish their points and don’t interupt. (Oh yah, like I find that easy!)
- Repeat their arguments back to them until you are assured they beileve you understand their position completely. Go back and forth until they believe you understand where they stand and why.
- Watch for the other person to release their emotional grip on their conclusion before you get to far making your own position clear.
- Understand that noone forms a new conclusion until they release their emotional grip on their old view. There is almost always a transition. It is very seldom a moving from a grip on one conclusion to a firm grip on a contrary conclusion.
- The emotional grip usually gains its tenacity from a beloved relationship or memory of a person or persons. Thus, get their story of origin of their belief or they will never release their grip. Validate the reality of their story but not its conclusion. Make sure the person understands how they got to where they are. And make sure you let them know that you understand why they believe as they believe.
- Never discount the power of their emotional grip. Never meet their emotion with your contrary emotion.
Reverse Emotional Attribution
This is a common phenomenon. It gets most of us in trouble. Reverse emotional attribution is believing the person on the other side of the issue holds their viewpoint primarily because of personal qualities or deficiencies and not because of the facts.
It is way too easy to say, “You are too stupid to understand.” Or to say the same thing in a more sophisticated way, “If you knew what I know you would agree with me.” And the thing is, that possibly could be true — just don’t say it or hide behind it.
Time Is a Friend
The process required for a deep change involves three steps over time.
- Loosening the grip. This means opening the mind to the possibility that another view could be more true than the presently held view.
- Examining the facts. Most people want to believe they are looking at the facts that matter. There are real facts; alleged facts and presumed facts. It is difficult to look at all the real facts without giving disproportionate weight to the facts that support your position. It takes time to let the reality of facts sink in.
- Developing a new grip. Over time a new grip may develop based on facts. Often when a person is leaning towards a new view they won’t declare it openly. That is until they are totally sure they must change regardless of the consequences.
Always be patient with one who disagrees with you. It may be that over time they come around.
You can’t truly convince a man against his will. On eternal matters it is only the Holy Spirit using the agency of human personality that brings a change of heart and mind. Keep praying and using this approach and you may be surprised how the Lord works.
” A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)