I kinda like to argue. I don’t know why. Maybe I’ve got some kind of confrontational personality disorder.
I used to argue stuff I didn’t even believe just to enjoy the verbal sparring involved in trying to prove my point. I was addicted to the idea of the win, The moment when I had back my opponent into a logical corner and they’d have to throw up their hands and say, “Clearly Albert, your’s is the superior intellect. I concede your point and reject my previous position.”
Except that never happened. No matter how well I argued, people would leave the conversation believing the same thing they had always believed, thinking the same way they had always thought.
I came to the conclusion that most people’s minds were fixed like concrete, that once an idea had taken root there no amount of logic could serve to pull it out. The idea of the win was a myth.
But recently I’ve been giving the win some more thought. Winning arguments doesn’t work. No matter how many facts you have at your disposal most people will go on believing what they’ve always believed. But you can change minds. How?
You have to win people.
“Win people?” you may ask. “What does that mean?”
Winning people is all about connection. It’s about creating friendships. It’s about being a nice person.
The best way to make someone see your point of view is to first make them like you. It sounds simple enough, but it’s a fact that most of our society chooses to ignore. Take for instance, the most recent presidential elections. Political pundits took great joy in dissecting the minutia of the different candidates campaign platforms, their political plans and economic strategies.
And in the end the man who won was the candidate who was the most likable.
This is coming from a guy who’s pretty staunchly conservative, by the way. I watched the campaign and I didn’t agree with most of Barak Obama’s policies, but even I had to admit that the man was charismatic and engaging. I enjoyed listening to him say things I disagreed with more than I enjoyed listening to McCain say (some) things that I agreed with.
We can moan and whine all we want about how unfair it is that people make decisions based on personal feelings, but in the end it doesn’t matter. The world we live in is not based on logic; it is based on likability.
Winning people isn’t just for politicians. It’s a good idea for everyone who wants to make an impact on the world, including us writers.
We want to get our work out into the world some day, and we want people to buy it. That’s why it’s so important that we nurture friendships and make connections that will leave a positive impression on the people around us.
The internet has expanded our capacity to make those connections in an amazing way, but it’s up to us to use that capability wisely. Time spent on Twitter and Facebook doesn’t have to be wasted. If we do it right we can forge friendships that may prove invaluable for us later on. At the very least we’re getting our name out there into the world, so that one day when we’re finally newly minted authors with books on the shelves of a real bookstore those friends we’ve made over the years will be there to buy them up.
Bottom line: we should never ever reject the power of relationships or forget the importance likability. Winning people may take longer than winning an argument, but time spent winning people is never wasted.