In Rationalia, all decisions are taken because scientific data is collected and the evidence supports the law. If you want to change a law, you suggest an experiment. If the experiment produces evidence that the new law improves the conditions of Rationalia, then the law is passed.
In this land, reason wins.
This is not a country that we are living in now.
This post is not going to get into the pros and cons of the nation of Rationalia.
How Do Politicians try to Change our Minds?
If I listen to political debate (Trump vs Hillary, UK Labour party, Brexit referendum) I do not hear rational arguments being put forward for a range of proposed policies.
I hear arguments that go to credibility (or Ethos, for those followers of Aristotle amongst you):
“You can’t trust her”,
“She doesn’t have the energy”,
“It was just locker-room banter”,
“He says it does not represent who he is, but I think we all know that it really does represent exactly who he is”
There is nothing here about policies. There is nothing here about the danger of the other’s flawed policies. There is only raising of my trustworthiness and decreasing of the other’s trustworthiness.
Why has Reason disappeared from political debate?
I understand this shift. I see three big reasons:
People hold a wider range of beliefs
more sources and types of data and
more channels for experts to spread their views.
There has been such a broadening of accepted beliefs over the last half-century that there are few value systems that can be assumed to apply to the whole electorate. There are few symbols that represent the same value to the whole electorate. There are few bases for logical argument that starts from a widely held truth.
There is much more data, in many more forms (graphics, reports, video, analyst reports…), there are many more experts, there are many more sources for information. The experts come at us through new channels – online, cable, satellite, podcasts, blogs, facebook, twitter…
It is confusing.
What do we do when we are Confused?
In this environment we seek voices we can trust. (Check out The Trust Equation for an in-depth analysis of the 4 components of trust in relationships)
It is only a trusted voice that can open our eyes to a new perspective.
If you want to persuade someone, build a relationship. If there is no relationship, there is little chance of persuasion.
We only really change our minds when a trusted friend who knows us finally asks a question in a private conversation “Hey, why is that so important to you? What effect do you think it is having on your life? on those around you?…”
Who are your trusted friends? Who do you allow to have influence on you?
I was watching a few Charlie Munger speeches recently – Warren Buffett’s partner in leading Berkshire Hathaway.
Charlie talks a lot about “Inverse Thinking”…
The Inverse Thinking Process
What is Inverse Thinking? Charlie says it is helpful to turn a question on its head. If you want to know what would improve the situation of India, ask what would make India worse? You can apply this to most situations: If you want to know what would improve your life, ask what would make your life worse? If you want to know what would improve schools, ask what would make schools worse?
Charlie does provide his answer to how to make life worse.
Charlie’s Recipe for a Miserable Life
His answer: The perfect path to a miserable failure of a life is combining:
Another of Charlie’s particular questions he asks himself is how to keep from fanatical ideology? He sees that human beings are so open to self-deception that we must (yes even you) all be on the lookout for our own beliefs that have become fanatical.
Charlie’s Recipe to Keep From Fanaticism
Can you state the arguments against your position as well as your opposition? If you can state the arguments against your position as effectively as the opposing camp, then you can allow yourself to feel that you are not being fanatical.
Charlie on the Danger of Perverse Incentives
Be careful about being in situations that motivate unhappy behaviour. Are the incentives in the systems in which you operate motivating behaviours that make you a better person, or a worse person. Be careful if you think your answer is “neutral”…
Charlie on the Danger of Perverse People
Don’t work for those who you do not admire.
It will damage you.
Charlie Munger speaking at USC Graduation
There is one random quote that stuck with me from Charlie:
“Hope is not necessary to persevere” Frederick the Great
There… those are my thoughts for this Sunday afternoon 😉 It is now time to head to the Camp Nou for FC Barcelona’s game against Espanyol… key for the league, and the Barcelona derby!
Cassandra lived in the time of greek myth, before we put numbers to the years. She was the daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of the city of Troy. She was a strong willed, beautiful red head. Her beauty was so great that she is considered the second most beautiful woman of all greek pre-history. (who was the most beautiful? *answer is at the end of this post) My own daughter’s name is a variant of Cassandra (Alexandra).
Her beauty and character brought her to the attention of the god Apollo. Apollo fell in love with her.
In order to seduce Cassandra, Apollo tried several approaches. Finally she made clear her demand: she would marry him in exchange for the gift of prophecy.
Apollo granted her this gift and Cassandra became able to see the future, to see all that was to come.
The wedding day came, Apollo was waiting… but Cassandra did not come. She broke the engagement. Apollo was angry.
The rules of greek gods were clear: what the god has given, he may not take away. Apollo could not take away prophecy. In his anger he cursed Cassandra with a cruelty that only greek gods could achieve.
Cassandra would never be believed. No one would ever believe her words.
Cassandra saw that her brother would die in the fight with Hercules, she saw the arrival of the greek army, she saw the truth of the Trojan horse. She tried and tried and tried to get her parents, her friends, the leaders of Troy to listen, but none would believe.
Cassandra ended her days as a mad, mad red headed beauty.
Don’t Be Cassandra
Imagine knowing the future and nobody believing you. Imagine having a plan for a project and nobody will get involved. Imagine trying to create a new business and nobody will invest, no client will buy and no supplier will agree to work with you. It is a maddening agony.
Cassandra was cursed by Apollo, but some of us choose the curse by not paying attention to our reputation, our character and the impression we create when we meet other people.
How to Build Credibility
credibility krɛdɪˈbɪlɪti / noun a) the quality of being trusted and believed in. synonyms: trustworthiness, reliability, dependability, integrity, character; b) the quality of being convincing or believable.synonyms: plausibility, believability, acceptability, tenability, probability, likelihood, authority, authoritativeness, impressiveness, cogency, weight, validity, soundness;
How to be Cassandra
There are 3 killers of Credibility that will bring upon you the curse that Apollo cast upon mad, mad Cassandra.
Undeclared direct self-serving interests
Undeclared vested interests
In essence, don’t be Cassandra. In greek myth, the opposite mythological role is Orpheus. He was always listened to, always believed. He is known as “The Inspired Singer”.
How to be Orpheus
Orpheus was always believed. His word was trusted. His plans were listened to. His requests for help were met with attention, resources and committed people.
Nobody is born as Orpheus. It is the fruit of choices about how you live your life. No matter what your role or position, Orpheus’ credibility is something that you have to earn. It takes time, patience, and consistency to build credibility. Credibility most grows when you are helping others achieve personal success.
Aristotle’s 3 Categories of Credibility
According to Aristotle, there are three categories of ethical character. (His exploration of character comes from an exploration of the Socratic question: “how should man best live?”)
Aristotle separates the ingredients into two levels, the first level are two virtues that are the foundation of all the rest. The foundational virtues are:
The edifice of credible character is then built of the following lived virtues:
Greatness of Soul
Gentleness (concerning Anger)
The Absence of Shame – Aristotle has a hard time with this idea, expressing that shame is a force that is necessary in youth to hold them back from overstepping bounds, but as wisdom develops with age an individual must remove the shackles of shame.
Lets bring this down to practical steps. Here are 5 practical guidelines:
Spend time building relationships with mentors, role models and friends of credible character. Find a way of having conversations about the tough choices that they have had to make in their lives (being Orpheus comes at a price). It is also important to realise that you are a mentor to others and to take this role proactively. Who are the people who you wish to inspire? Let them know what you see in them.
Show others that you care about their future. Listen to other’s goals and help them clarify what is important to them.
Do what you say you’re going to do. (and Don’t do what you don’t proactively decide to do.)
Develop expertise – invest in becoming wiser. I find that learning skills that I am not good at keeps a little bit of humility in me when I then work in areas where I am good. (Ballroom dancing is a great source of humility for me)
Be transparent about what you know and don’t know. The more you share about your own experience, the more others will open up to you. Self-disclosure, when you reveal information about yourself to others, is an important part of transparency.
*The most beautiful woman in all greek myth? Helen of Troy, the twin sister of Cassandra.
Photo credit: “Cassandra1” by Evelyn De Morgan – Flickr. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cassandra1.jpeg#/media/File:Cassandra1.jpeg
Photo credit: “Helen of Troy” by Evelyn de Morgan – Secondary source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Helen_of_Troy.jpg. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Helen_of_Troy.jpg#/media/File:Helen_of_Troy.jpg
Over the last 10 years I have increasingly moved from product businesses towards a services business.
In the world of private jets we had simple rules: if the trip is not paid, the plane doesn’t leave. It was policy, not decision.
In the world of coaching leaders to build cultures of disciplined high performance, there is often a wide grey area between free discussion and paid consulting. I find it very difficult to mark that line clearly. I love talking about psychology and high performance and getting the best out of people. I am interested.
My landlord only accepts money for rent. Not good intention. So I have to do the same myself.
6 Steps to Stop Being “Free”
Be clear on the results you can help them achieve – Can you explain what success looks like in a clear, concise, specific and compelling way? in language that your target customers can really understand?
Show testimonials, examples, logos of past successes – capture testimonials and make them as specific as possilble
Find common passions or interests (liking) – build relationships that are broader than pure business
Respect yourself – know where you draw your line (Let the prospective client know that you are the most capable, dedicated and solution-oriented consultant they will find and that you normally charge X-amount for your time.)
Blog, write, speak, publish – direct your potential client there rather than give custom answers – thought leadership is free, customising the advice for a specific person and access to you should be expensive
Ask for the sale – Make yourself a product, set clear prices – and ask for the sale. “Look, I think you value my advice – lets set up a 6 month deal – two meetings per month for €XX”
More on the fine line between free and paid consulting
UCD Smurfit Business School will be hosting a 3 day Influence and Persuasive Communications Seminar on January 14-16 2015.
About UCD Smurfit Business School
UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School is Ireland’s leading business school and research centre. The school offers a wide range of postgraduate business programmes that equip students to become the business leaders of the future.
UCD Smurfit are one of less than 60 business schools worldwide to hold triple accreditation from the US, Europe and the UK accrediting bodies.
Using a wide range of practical tools and concepts, participants will learn how to use both emotional and rational intelligence to persuade others in one-on-one situations and presentations.
It is a highly interactive course that will see participants acquire techniques for establishing credibility and managing nervous energy.
In addition they will gain valuable expertise in delivering diverse types of speeches by mastering the clear and powerful communication that is vital for accomplishing any business objective in today’s economic climate.
He speaks of an old 1960’s idea called “Latitude of Acceptance”. He defines it better than I, so I’ll pretty much take his text verbatim:
Matthew Lieberman on Latitudes of Acceptance
“I’ll tell you about my new favorite idea, which like all new favorite ideas, is really an old idea. This one, from the 1960s, was used only in a couple of studies. It’s called “latitude of acceptance”. If I want to persuade you, what I need to do is pitch my arguments so that they’re in the range of a bubble around your current belief; it’s not too far from your current belief, but it’s within this bubble. If your belief is that you’re really, really anti-guns, let’s say, and I want to move you a bit, if I come along and say, “here’s the pro-gun position,” you’re actually going to move further away. Okay? It’s outside the bubble of things that I can consider as reasonable.
We all have these latitudes around our beliefs, our values, our attitudes, which teams are ok to root for, and so on, and these bubbles move. They flex. When you’re drunk, or when you’ve had a good meal, or when you’re with people you care about versus strangers, these bubbles flex and move in different ways. Getting two groups to work together is about trying to get them to a place where their bubbles overlap, not their ideas, not their beliefs, but the bubbles that surround their ideas. Once you do that, you don’t try to get them to go to the other position, you try to get them to see there’s some common ground that you don’t share, but that you think would not be a crazy position to hold.
There’s the old Carlin bit about when you drive on the road: anyone going faster than me is a maniac and anyone going slower than me is a jerk. That that’s the way we live our lives. We’re always going the right speed, and everybody else is missing the boat. We don’t take into account that I’m going fast today because I’ve got to get to the hospital, or I’m going slow today because I know I had something to drink, and I shouldn’t have, so I’m going to drive real slow. We don’t take those things into account. We just think whatever I’m doing is the right thing, and we have to recognize there’s this space around those, and if we can find that overlap we can get some movement. And so that’s not a nudge idea, per se. It’s really about finding when people are in a mental space where they’re more open to other ideas, and what is often going on there is you’re trying on identities.
William James said long ago that we have as many identities as people that we know, and probably more than that. We are different with different people. I’m different with my son than I am with you. We have these different identities that we try on, and they surround us. With some friends I can be more of a centrist, and with other friends I might be more of a liberal, depending on what feels like it would work in that moment, and they can all be authentic positions that I really believe at different points in time. I’m really interested in looking at that as a mechanism of persuasion when it comes to regular old persuasion, when it comes to education, when it comes to public health, and when it comes to international issues as well. It’s finding that latitude of acceptance and finding out how to use it successfully.”
Aristotle spoke of the search for the Enthymeme – the point where my beliefs connect to your beliefs. If you can find the enthymeme, you can build an argument that has a chance of persuading. If you cannot find the enthymeme, then reason will not help build a bridge between your two positions. The most important part of finding the enthymeme is finding out what is assumed as true for the audience.
The modern concept Latitudes of Acceptance captures this age-old idea of searching for the Enthymeme.
Point X and Latitudes of Acceptance
I have been a proponent for over a decade of starting all persuasive processes with your Point X. What is a realistic, concrete and specific step that you want the audience to take at the end of your words? If you can answer this first, you have a good chance of building a powerful persuasive speech.
Most persuasion fails here – it fails because we are unclear or unrealistic about what we ask of the audience.
I had coffee this morning with an entrepreneur from Barcelona and fellow member of Entrepreneurs’ Organisation. I spoke about a couple of blog posts that had really impacted me and changed my perspectives on life. He asked me to share my list. Here it is.
5 Blog Posts that Changed My Perspectives
Derek Sivers’ post “You don’t have to be local” was a real perspective shift for me. I have spent many years connecting into the local Barcelona entrepreneur community… and I really resonated with Derek’s perspective. I enjoy writing, blogging, travelling with Barcelona as a base. This post allowed me to feel less need to search for purely local connection.
Paul Graham’s post “Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule” helped me make a big shift away from my Accenture lifestyle and manager focus towards a creator schedule. I take fewer and fewer short meetings and look at only taking 2, 4 and 8 hour meetings. This amount of time allows me to go deep into solutions and actually create something new. 15 minute meetings, 30 minute meetings really just make me feel busy, but do not actually lead to anything productive as an outcome.
David Maister’s short ebook “Strategy and the Fat Smoker” helped me take a more helpful perspective on long versus short term goals. In the end, strategy fails because the hourly, daily grind of execution doesn’t measure up to the good intentions. The fat smoker didn’t intend to be overweight and ill at 50, it was due to little daily breaks in the plan.
Leo Babauta writes the blog Zen Habits. His reflection on “Why We Procrastinate” resonated with my personal experience. His post didn’t solve my procrastination problem, but it did set me on the path to practicing focus. My own post on Self-Discipline was inspired by Leo Babauta.
Steven Pressfield wrote “The War of Art” and helped me understand that the little voice in my head that questions why I am writing, who am I to think I have something to say, what will one article change is not me, it is “Resistance“. Each day, the creator must sit down and push through this voice of resistance and “Do The Deep Work“.
Bloggers that I love and read every post, but there is not one single post that I can point out:
Toastmasters is a wonderful organisation for anybody who wishes to improve their ability to speak with impact.
However, there is something that has often challenged me with the “best” toastmaster speeches. They are very clearly the work of someone who has worked very, very, very hard on the words, gestures and voice that they use to deliver the speech. The “best” toastmaster speeches verge on the theatric and sometimes leave behind a sense of a natural conversation. Toastmasters evaluations can focus on bringing attention to symbols of hard work on the art of public speaking – big gestures, long pauses, wide ranges of volume, tone and pace in voice.
Why hide the art? Why would you want to go to the effort to hide the work you have done on being a great speaker?
Sims refers to a number of great political orators of the Athenian state. They knew that if the people saw them as relaxed and natural, they would be more open to listen to their ideas. If the people saw how much they worked on their ability to speak, the people would be worried about being manipulated by them.
It is a paradox – being visibly “too good” makes you less likely to connect and persuade.
Hiding the art does not mean that you intentionally are a poor speaker. It means what Bruce Lee refers to as Natural Un-Naturalness (see final paragraphs of post).
“The natural instinct and control need to be combined in harmony – one to the extreme you become very unscientific, the other you become a mechanical man… no longer a human being – the ideal is unnatural naturalness, or natural unnaturalness… yin yang” Bruce Lee
The swan swims gracefully over the water of the pond – only the fish see how hard her little feet are paddling beneath the surface. This is the art of great speaking. The art is to go through theatrical and get back to looking authentic, human and natural.
Moving people to action requires that you go beyond the level of preparation that allows you to deliver an excellent performance and arrive at an ability to hold a peer-to-peer conversation with the audience.
The path to Natural must pass through Contrived
The path to natural unnaturalness must pass through “contrived unnaturalness” – you have to do the work to move through discomfort and expansion of your natural range as a speaker – and Toastmasters is the absolute best path. However, taking your message beyond toastmasters requires integrating the gestures, voice, words back into yourself so that the audience feels like you have not worked so hard. This way they trust the person and listen to the message, rather than are impressed by the person, but distrustful of the message.
Great artists mastered the basics over many, many years before they found the path back to what we might call “authentic” or natural.