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You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him to find it within himself. -Galileo 

Most of the time, we try to cajole, persuade, inspire or influence people, so we argue with them to convince them to see things from our perspective. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion.” The key is to understand a basic truth; you cannot win an argument; people change when they are ready to change. The best you can do is to help them make what was unconscious to them become conscious. As Carl Jung once quipped, ‘Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life, and you will call it fate.’ And as Author John C. Maxwell noted:

  • People change when they….Hurt enough they have to
  • Learn enough that they want to and
  • Receive enough that they are able to

In his classic book, How to win friends and influence people, Author Dale Carnegie writes:

Nine times out of ten, an argument ends with each of the contestants more firmly convinced than ever that he is absolutely right.

You can’t win an argument. You can’t because if you lose it, you lose it; and if you win it, you lose it. Why? Well, suppose you triumph over the other man and shoot his argument full of holes and prove that he is non compos mentis. Then what? You will feel fine. But what about him? You have made him feel inferior. You have hurt his pride. He will resent your triumph. And –

A man convinced against his will
Is of the same opinion still.

As wise old Ben Franklin used to say:

If you argue and rankle and contradict, you may achieve a victory sometimes; but it will be an empty victory because you will never get your opponent’s good will.

So figure it out for yourself. Which would you rather have, an academic, theatrical victory or a person’s good will? You can seldom have both.

Be wiser than other people if you can; but do not tell them so. Lord Chesterfield

 In his great book, The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone’s Mind, marketing Professor and Author Jonah Berger writes about what he called reactance: An unpleasant state occurs when people feel their freedom is lost or threatened.

Pushing, telling, or just encouraging people to do something often makes them less likely to do it.

When pushed, people push back. Just like a missile defense system protects against incoming projectiles, people have an innate anti-persuasion system. Radar that kicks in when they sense someone is trying to convince them. To lower this barrier, catalysts encourage people to persuade themselves.

Restriction generates a psychological phenomenon called reactance. An unpleasant state that occurs when people feel their freedom is lost or threatened.

Change is hard

  • We persuade and cajole and pressure and push, but even after all that work, often nothing moves. Things change at a glacial pace if they change at all. People like to feel they have control over their choices and actions. That they have the freedom to drive their own behavior.
  • When others threaten or restrict that freedom, people get upset. When told they can’t or shouldn’t do something, it interferes with their autonomy. Their ability to see their actions as driven by themselves. So they push back: Who are you to tell me I can’t text while driving or walk my dog on that pristine patch of grass? I can do whatever I want!

While texting while driving might not have even been that attractive originally, threatening to restrict it makes it more desirable.

Berger proposed some solutions to reduce reactance to your ideas and suggestions:

Allow for Agency

  • “To avoid reactance and the persuasion radar, then, catalysts allow for agency. They stop trying to persuade and instead get people to persuade themselves.” To reduce reactance, catalysts allow for agency—not by telling people what to do or by being completely hands-off, but by finding the middle ground. By guiding their path.

Four key ways to do that are:

 (1) Provide a menu,

  • Try to convince people to do something, and they spend a lot of time counterarguing. Thinking about all the various reasons why it’s a bad idea or why something else would be better. Why they don’t want to do what was suggested.”

But give people multiple options, and suddenly things shift.

(2) ask, don’t tell,

Questions encourage listeners to commit to the conclusion. To behave consistently with whatever answer they gave.

  • Rather than taking a predetermined plan and pushing it on people, catalysts do the opposite. They start by asking questions. Visiting with stakeholders, getting their perspectives, and engaging them in the planning process.

(3) highlight a gap,

  • People strive for internal consistency. They want their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors to align. Someone who says they care about the environment tries to reduce their carbon footprint. Someone who preaches the virtues of honesty tries not to tell lies.
  • Consequently, when attitudes and behaviors conflict, people get uncomfortable. And to reduce this discomfort, or what scientists call cognitive dissonance, people take steps to bring things back in line.

Highlighting such dissonance, and bringing it to the fore, encourages people not only to see the discord but also to work to resolve it.

(4) start with understanding.

  • Before people will change, they have to be willing to listen. They have to trust the person they’re communicating with. And until that happens, no amount of persuasion is going to work.
  • Seasoned negotiators don’t start with what they want; they start with whom they want to change. Working to gain insight into where that person is coming from. Comprehending and appreciating that person’s situation, feelings, and motives, and showing them that someone else understands.

Starting with understanding diffuses anti-persuasion radar by making sure the other side gets a chance to say their piece.

Dale Carnegie writes in How to Win Friends and Influence People:

In an article in Bits and Pieces, some suggestions are made on how to keep a disagreement from becoming an argument:

  • Welcome the disagreement. Remember the slogan, ‘When two partners always agree, one of them is not necessary.’ If there is some point you haven’t thought about, be thankful if it is brought to your attention. Perhaps this disagreement is your opportunity to be corrected before you make a serious mistake.
  • Distrust your first instinctive impression. Our first natural reaction in a disagreeable situation is to be defensive. Be careful. Keep calm and watch out for your first reaction. It may be you at your worst, not your best.
  • Control your temper. Remember, you can measure the size of a person by what makes him or her angry.
  • Listen first. Give your opponents a chance to talk. Let them finish. Do not resist, defend or debate. This only raises barriers. Try to build bridges of understanding. Don’t build higher barriers of misunderstanding.”
  • Look for areas of agreement. When you have heard your opponents out, dwell first on the points and areas on which you agree.
  • Be honest. Look for areas where you can admit error and say so. Apologize for your mistakes. It will help disarm your opponents and reduce defensiveness.
  • Promise to think over your opponents’ ideas and study them carefully. And mean it. Your opponents may be right. It is a lot easier at this stage to agree to think about their points than to move rapidly ahead and find yourself in a position where your opponents can say: ‘We tried to tell you, but you wouldn’t listen.’
  • Thank your opponents sincerely for their interest. Anyone who takes the time to disagree with you is interested in the same things you are. Think of them as people who really want to help you, and you may turn your opponents into friends.”
  • Postpone action to give both sides time to think through the problem. Suggest that a new meeting be held later that day or the next day, when all the facts may be brought to bear. In preparation for this meeting, ask yourself some hard questions:

Could my opponents be right? Partly right? Is there truth or merit in their position or argument? Is my reaction one that will relieve the problem, or will it just relieve any frustration? Will my reaction drive my opponents further away or draw them closer to me? Will my reaction elevate the estimation good people have of me? Will I win or lose? What price will I have to pay if I win? If I am quiet about it, will the disagreement blow over? Is this difficult situation an opportunity for me?

All the Best in your quest to get Better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

Goal: Learn the Python Programming Language at Intermediate level by December 31st 2021.

My Widely Important learning goal for 2021 is to learn the Python Programming language at the intermediate level by December 31st, 2021. I intend to commit at least 1 hour a day/ 365 hours of study time (Video tutorials, books, libraries, projects) to learn Python in 2021.

Python is an interpreted, high-level and general-purpose programming language. As of December 2020 Python ranked third in TIOBE’s index of most popular programming languages, behind C and Java.

Will it be easy? Certainly not. I had tried to learn python through a Data Science Bootcamp in 2019 but could not keep up as the classroom setup did not align with my personal goals; I had to stop the class and forfeit the initial payment. It is going to require a lot of commitment, routine, and dedication. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I would be updating my progress here; let the coding begin.

Strategy: Project based learning.

Use Case: Cybersecurity, Cloud Computing, DevOps

Learning Progress

Linkedin Learning

Books

Youtube

All the best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

There are only two industries that call their customers ‘users’: illegal drugs and software. – Edward Tufte

I have a love-hate relationship with social media because it has some very significant advantages and also some very worrying qualities. I got very interested in the way social media is affecting the world after I read Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. I had a paradigm shift after reading that book, which led me to delete Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Linkedin (not deleted but deleted all posts)

I have since read Irresistible by Adam Atler, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicolas Carr, Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by  Jaron Lanier, and looking forward to reading The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by  Shoshana Zuboff, Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil, among others. The Arguments of the authors are both chilling and thought-provoking; Social Media is great but use with discretion and in moderation.

The Social Dilemma is a 2020 docudrama directed by Jeff Orlowski and written by Orlowski, Davis Coombe, and Vickie Curtis. Released via Netflix on September 9, 2020, the film explores the rise of social media and the damage it has caused to society, focusing on its exploitation of its users for financial gain through surveillance capitalism and data mining, how its design is meant to nurture an addiction, its use in politics, its impact on mental health (including the mental health of adolescents and rising teen suicide rates), and its role in spreading conspiracy theories and aiding groups such as flat-earthers and white supremacists.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. – Arthur C. Clarke.  

Here are my favourite takeaways from watching the Social Dilemma Netflix documentary:

Focus is a matter of deciding what things you’re not going to do.—John Carmac

Learning to say NO to our friends, colleagues, and family is one of the hardest decisions we are faced with on an ongoing basis. It is usually extremely hard for a lot of us to say NO because of our upbringing, it is kind of not culturally accepted to say NO, you hear words like you are been selfish. We are trained to be courteous and polite.

Anytime you say: “yes” to one request, you might have to defend it over time with 100 NOs. There is always a trade-off. If you say yes to mindless social media scrolling or picking up your phone to check WhatsApp messages every 15 minutes, you are saying NO invariably to your dream of writing a book or a blog post article. Many of us find it hard to say NO to people’s requests because we do not have clear goals, values, priorities, and boundaries.

The key to saying NO is to say it graciously and with utmost sincerity. You can say something like: Thank you for the offer/invitation but due to my other commitments, I can not do this right now. Honesty is the best policy, mean what you say and say what you mean. No need to promise people what you know you are not going to do, this eventually leads to resentment and loss of trust in the relationship.