29 votes

You will never convince anyone

Often times people become frustrated when others don't immediately agree with and/or understand their point of view - especially when the subject matter is dear to them. In many cases, the frustration first manifests itself through a noticeable sigh that translates to - "Here we go again." Consider your reaction to the following statement:

I don't like Ron Paul because of his racist newsletters. Blah... blah... blah...

If you haven't done so already, exhale loudly and forcefully.

The sigh - or whatever your "tell" is - prepares you for what your mind makes out to be an impending confrontation. The behavior has likely become an involuntary reflex and provides a good example of the subtleties in your persona that naturally impact the thoughts and actions of others.

Not only does the sigh put you in a defensive mode, it sets the mood of the other person as well. Your ability to have influence depends on the other person being receptive enough to hear you out. Good luck with that if you immediately provoke them.

Almost counter-intuitively, the key is not to defeat your nature - to train yourself to avoid the "tells" inherent in your personality. The key is to avoid the emotion - in this case, frustration - that brings on the behavior. The particular term for this characteristic is:

Unflappability - persistently calm, whether when facing difficulties or experiencing success; not easily upset or excited.

How does one become unflappable - particularly in argumentative situations? While not the entire solution, a major step one can take in the right direction is realizing that - You'll never convince anyone. People convince themselves. If you truly accept this principle, you'll avoid tons of frustration.

In the end, any person that does change their mind does so only after weighing the new information properly against his or her current beliefs. Some perform this task more quickly than others, but most people aren't going to drop their deeply rooted views on a whim in the middle of a discussion or debate. So, quite simply, don't expect it of them.

One should aspire to plant seeds. These seeds need not be well laid out arguments either - which most folks don't have the time and/or patience to listen to attentively, anyway. For example, suppose a cashier uses one of those markers to make sure your FRN isn't counterfeit - ha! - you could say, "Don't worry. It's fresh off the government presses."

In addition, good questions are a powerful way to communicate ideas. Asking questions causes the other person to actively engage in the conversation in a more thoughtful way - rather than remaining silent and likely all the while just waiting for their turn to speak. For example, one might say:

Is the government: A. Too small; B. Too big; or C. Just right? Why? (assuming B) What parts would you like to get rid of?

You might disagree with 99% of what a person likes about the State, but as a libertarian, I bet you can find common ground on the other 1% - and that's enough. I can almost guarantee that the logic they use against the 1% can also be successfully applied to the great majority of the other 99%. Through questioning, you can respectfully help other people discover inconsistencies without having to point them out directly.

Nonetheless, you'll never convince anyone. You can hope to provide input that will go into their decision making process, but in the end, people convince themselves.

If people find themselves thinking later about what you had to say, you succeeded. The rest is up to them. So, don't get frustrated.

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Dog Whisperer

It's all about energy.

I've been watching the Dog Whisperer, even though I don't have a dog.

Not only does he use techniques that I see some successful politicians use, but many of them remind me of techniques my parents used on us kids (Dad has said he was glad he dogs before he had kids).

The first step is to decide what your goal is, and keep that in mind without being side-tracked by a desire to "bury the opposition." If you want to win them over, find out where you agree and start from there.

This requires objectivity--standing outside oneself--being wise. If you watch the Dog Whisperer, you'll know that he often takes a deep breath before joining the pack, and practices meditation. People will follow that energy, so if you can develop it, you can get elected!

What do you think? http://consequeries.com/

Been saying things like this

Been saying things like this for years here. Well done. My slant has been more about people's love to buy vs their dislike for being sold, because that's my field. I'm not optimistic however. The passion inspired by the realization that liberty is the answer is counterintuitive to deliberate, suggestive selling. It's on display at DP. Love to argue so much. Even after someone sparks interest in a reader, it's not enough, "here, eat the whole cake in one bite, become one with my full understanding of the issue."

I'll say it until I'm blue in the face. Stop looking for epiphanies when you talk to people.... "I got you to open your eyes to sound money, cool, now listen to this about non-interventionism overseas, hey lots of us are beginning to think troops in Syria are a bad idea, cool, now, you really need enlightenment man, check out how flouride is in our water, amazing huh, and dude you should know HAARP caused the earthquake in Haiti."

When you sell someone a refrigerator, shut up and ring them out at the register after they say "I'll take it." You don't blab all the way there about how they need to be buying the right foods or they'd be dumb not to. You'd lose the sale not just that day, but the customer will not return to the store and talk to you again.

10-15 million more voters need to believe in non-interventionism (liberty) at home and abroad to change America. Minds changed on Syria. Minds changing on privacy. "Printing money" is part of the dialogue. Win minds through focus, strategy.

Good points

Trying to pile everything on at one time tends to overwhelm people and turn them off.

very true.


Christians should not be warmongers! http://www.lewrockwell.com/vance/vance87.html

Thank you


“A Man convinced against his will...

is of the same opinion still.”

Defeat the panda-industrial complex

I am dusk icon. anagram me.

Liked that quote always I have...

Very true it is (in my best Yoda voice).

Sheep surprise me. I come to

Sheep surprise me. I come to this site at least 2 times a day to keep me sane. I am currently having a debate over the minimum wage and I tend to get frustrated. But oh well they will wake up one day.. Hopefully.
I love you all!

RON PAUL 2008!

Mark Twain

Wasn't it Mark Twain who said, "It's easier to fool people than to convince them they have been fooled"? There sure is some wisdom in that statement. My mind is made up. Don't confuse me with the facts.

ive just come to the

ive just come to the conclusion that folks have to get their on their own, in their own way, nothing wrong with discussing it if the other person has the urge to discuss it too, and maybe your ready to discuss many things once you get going, but the othr person wants to discuss one thing specific.......the way i see it, if someone asks something anser it honestly to the best ability of how you understand it, and if you're hanging around sites like this, at least you have an intelectual curiousty in librty, im sure if your doing that long enough, you might have had a chance to reflect on whats being discussed, and hopefully have an answer worthy of the question, even if its 50% right or wrong in a world of phylosophy whre there is no right or wrong but the drive to improve.

One can only engage those folks when they are ready, when they ask a question, answer to your best ability, if they express their opinion on something, then express yours respectfully, ask them why they think that way about a certain thing, get them to question their own belief, just to get them accustomed to self reflectiion, assuming that they dknt already do so

For me, baring the internet, its seems a rare occurance, maybe that may change, maybe it wont, or at least not for a long while, but i do think that, people need to find liberty, not liberty find people, maybe to guide, a helping hand, a lighthouse, or a simple guidepost, thats cool, else where would people go once they have the need.......dp/ron paul was my first lighthouse one of many more i hope to see, youve guided me this far my guardians, rest now and let others lift your burden when they come, and together we shall carry one another to the "promissed land"

When i say DP, i mean not only its founders, but the community that has marshalled around "lady liberty" not limited to dp, but dp none the less, when i say "DP", past, present, future....that is who i mean, "lady liberties children"

This is great advice


ChristianAnarchist's picture

Right on... I just saw this

Right on... I just saw this after posting my "Winning people over to Liberty!" thread. Seems we are saying pretty much the same thing. Winning people over one person at a time!

Beware the cult of "government"...

A very well written and

A very well written and important post, one that all of us who wish to spread the message of Liberty should take to heart.

Beliefs are hierarchical within peoples thinking. Some beliefs are more important than others... but all beliefs within a persons thinking are connected in someway and related, even if in the most mundane and seemingly insignificant way. Beliefs are not like marbles that we keep in a bag and trade at random or on a whim. Beliefs are like webs which connect and relate to one another. The peripheral beliefs can be surrendered pretty easily, with little argument, while the central beliefs are guarded and protected from attack. In fact, people will often change a peripheral belief completely in order to protect a more central belief.

There's a funny story I heard that illustrates the situation. It is absurd, but just play along for fun:

Suppose you had a friend who was convinced that he is dead. This belief of his informs everything else he thinks and does. You try everything to convince him of the opposite, but he simply will not budge. You decide to take him to a Psychiatrist who sits across from your friend in fascination. The Doctor decides to try something drastic to snap him out of his beloved delusion.
He asks, "I'm curious, do dead men bleed?"
Your friend reasons a bit and declares, "No, dead men don't bleed."
At this the doctor pulls out a pin and jabs your friend in the arm with it. Your friend sits in stunned silence while a small dot of blood begins to ooze from his forearm.
The Psychiatrist swoops in for the logical kill, "I see your are bleeding, but you said dead men don't bleed... what does this mean?"
Your friend reasons a bit more and declares, "Well look at that! Dead men do bleed after all!"

well said



great stuff. couldn't agree more.

This is a good post...

...and I'll try to remember this the next time I'm in a conversational debate.

I'm a serial entrepreneur and liberty activist from Texas!


Michael Nystrom's picture

Good point. I liken it to an apple ripening

There is nothing you can do to make an apple ripen. It will ripen when it is ready. All the arguing, cajoling, pleading, heavy sighing, eye rolling, foot tapping, shouting, yelling screaming. None of it will help one bit.

Plant the seeds. Not necessarily the seeds of doubt - just the seeds. Seeds of possibility. Then come by and water them every once in a while. Shine your light on them.

In other words, don't be a Paultard, lol.

Good work again, Darrel (did I spell your name right?)

He's the man.

Thanks Michael

It's fun to get people to think.

I spell it Derrel. Don't sweat it. It's a very uncommon spelling.

Michael Nystrom's picture

It is fun


Derrel. I'll remember it in the future. (People spell my name wrong all the time, too.)

He's the man.

I'm willing

I'm willing to drop my deeply rooted views. I don't challenge others, I challenge myself. People can take it however they want, but it's exactly as you said.. we convince ourselves.. what do I know? Pffft.

I love DP because I LEARN. DP has changed my life in many ways. I was not a Republican Zionist when I came here. Matter of fact, if you told me in 2007/08/09/10 or 11.. "Granger, you're going to become a Republican Zionist". I would have told you you're ucking futs. NO WAY!!! If you would have told me that I would vote for a Republican other than Ron Paul.. I would have said BS or YFOS!!!

If you would have said that I would be on a GOP committee, an officer and standing delegate.. I would have LOL.. what a joke.

It's not about being right anyways.. it's about being real.. I'm open to change.. obviously, it's just a metter of convincing myself.

damn, dwalters is on a roll

I always appreciate posts on the fine art of persuasion from the libertarian perspective. Have you read THE book on the subject? I ordered it a while back but haven't gotten around to reading it. Now I can't find it.

“The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.” — Albert Camus

Michael Nystrom's picture

Yup, him and Peyton Manning

They're on a roll. An unstoppable combo, especially now that the Broncos have Welker, too.

He's the man.

That game was terrible. Props to the Hawks, but it was boring..

once the fate had been sealed.

Good stuff.

Often months after an argument people will come around and adopt your point of view. Rarely during the argument, because one is invested in being right. The less harsh you make it for the other person to come around, the less their ego is invested in being right. It's easy to know this and harder to practice it. And moreover, in public debate, the goal is rarely to convince the opponent, but rather the persuade the audience. Rhetoric which sways the audience is often grating on the opponent, so the purpose of the debate has a lot to do with the tone and outcome. In a one on one situation where rhetoric and swaying the audience has no role, it is always better to present your argument in such a way as is least likely to harden the opponent in his own view.

Yeah, I think you're slowly coming around...


Heh. Couldn't resist, could

Heh. Couldn't resist, could ya?

Set up was too perfect...

Sure couldn't.