From James Altucher Podcast - Ep. 62 at about 52 minutes or so.
During this podcast, Tony Robbins opines about things that hold us back from effectively influencing others and the necessary preconditions. I transcribed it below.
What does it take for any of us to be effective?
We have to be able to influence people that don’t think like us.
If you only influence people who think like you do, then you divide yourself (…your company, your family, your nation) in half. And it doesn’t matter if you think you’re right or not. Even if you are right… We have to… You know one of the things I’ve learned about the most effective communicators on Earth is they’ve been able to enter other peoples worlds… better than other people.
And so you can’t influence somebody if you don’t know what already influences them and you can’t influence somebody when you’re judging them. And so I think that’s one of the challenges, not only for our president, but for both parties right now. We’ve become so polarized…
…it used to be people would fight like hell and they’d go have a beer together. Now they fight like hell and that’s all they do…
What follows are my own thoughts and notes on influence.
There’s definitely evidence of this divisive dynamic all over social media. You don’t have to search very hard to find a “hornet’s nest” post on Facebook. A hornet’s nest post begins with a person posting something they feel strongly about. (And I love when people are passionate about things…) But what happens a lot of the time is that the post is written as an unconstructive tirade that doesn’t promote discussion oversimplifies things and paints as immoral or ignorant those that dissent. These are posts that were made for the Like button and not for the comments box.
The only people who will want to discuss will be a number of people will feel mischaracterized or demonized or worse. They will feel defensive. And they may respond with venom or with attempts at discussion but even when the original poster and the commenting dissenter are able to have a civil discussion, there’s a good chance that some inflammatory troll will try to shut things down with a moral oversimplification. (We all have that one “friend” or relative.)
We have to choose influence with integrity over “being right”.
I truly believe we all want to be effective people. If you were convinced by Tony Robbins, as I was, that you can only do so by being able to influence people who don’t already think like you do, then we have some work to do to avoid falling into the easy trap of using moral bludgeons and putting more hornet’s nests into the world. If your intent is to “write the internet you would want to read”, I would have to consider this a failure.
Who won’t I influence?
This one is a personal choice. I try to only engage with thinking people because I don’t care to keep people in my life who are drama-laden. If I have reasons to deem that a particular person is irrational, immoral, or ignorant… I’m more likely to try not to have anything to do with that person than to try to influence them.
As Tim Ferris says, you can’t reason a person out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into.
When is it appropriate to try to influence somebody?
For it to be worth the time of all invoved, we should choose to attempt influence only when think that a person’s life (or the lives of those around them) would be dramatically improved if they changed an idea, started doing something, or stopped doing something. The intent has to purely come from an interest in their well-being and we should plan to let it go if they are not receptive to suggestions..
In what manner is it appropriate to try to influence somebody?
Style matters a lot here, especially on social media, because attention spans are barely-there and, because of the mix of content types, people will not be reading things closely on the first go. So… it is critically important to be brief, clear, and nonjudgmental.
We must avoid the use of blame and shame. I want the reader’s thinking brain chewing on some “food for thought”. I don’t want them defensively crafting the perfect response to what they perceive as an attack.
We must only appeal to the best within people: Their reason and their desire to do and be better than they are today. They can have their fears manipulated by the news with a push of a button. That won’t come from me.