Business partnering skills across all functions are becoming highly prized assets. Human engagement, communication, mutual understanding, collaboration – core qualities of human empathy.
We like to think we have these skills and are open minded, objective professionals.
But we all suffer from a common problem to a greater or lesser extent, and it limits us professionally and personally.
The economist J.K. Galbraith once wrote, “Faced with a choice between changing one’s mind and proving there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy with the proof.”
What’s going on here? Why don’t facts change our minds?
How do such behaviors serve us?
We humans are herd animals. We want to fit in, to bond with others, and to earn the respect and approval of our peers. Our ancestors lived in tribes.
Understanding the truth of a situation is important, but so is remaining part of a tribe. While these two desires often work well together, they occasionally come into conflict.
Convincing someone to change their mind is really the process of convincing them to change their tribe.
Perhaps it is not difference, but distance that breeds tribalism and hostility. As proximity increases, so does understanding. Abraham Lincoln said “I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.”
Facts don’t change our minds. Friendship does.
The people who are most likely to change our minds are the ones we agree with on 98 percent of topics. This certainly explains the “echo chamber” phenomenon!
When we are in the moment, we can easily forget that the goal is to connect with the other person, collaborate with them, befriend them, and integrate them into our tribe.
We are so caught up in winning that we forget about connecting.
The word “kind” originated from the word “kin.” When you are kind to someone it means you are treating them like family. This, I think, is a good method for actually changing someone’s mind. Develop a friendship. Share a meal. Gift a book.
Be kind first, be right later.
I am going to work on that.
You can read James Clear’s outstanding article on this topic, a 4 minute read, here .. .
If we want to be more impactful and effective, it is worth those minutes.