Have you ever felt really right about something important?
Like the genius of single-payer healthcare, or border walls, or gender equality, or the New York Mets?
And you try hard to share your big ideas, but the other person won’t listen. And, like Hank Williams, you’re wondering, “Why can't I free your doubtful mind and melt your cold, cold heart?”
Well, the answer may be…you just can’t. And not because you’re wrong (but check that blind-spot first).
Rather, because you’re up against several potent elements of human psychology:*
1. Intuition comes first. Evolved and learned intuitions unconsciously and powerfully push us toward perspectives that feel right—before we even know it.
2. Strategic reasoning comes second. When our reasoning mind does fire up, more often it acts as our intuition’s lawyer, justifying and defending a $15 minimum wage—rather than its scientist, open to exploring the economic impacts.
3. We trust US and fear THEM. Our evolved intuition is wired with tribal instincts from birth. And our learned intuition comes from experience with people (and ideas) we care about and admire—US—and people (and ideas) that scare us—THEM.
But all is not lost.
If that person you want to reach is important, and you’re willing to do the emotional labor, you may yet connect with that person’s scientist mind—by being admired for the empathy you unpack.
It can go something like this:
1. Breathe and be calm
2. Smile and be friendly.
3. Listen first and without judgement.
4. Take a walk in their shoes.
5. Then share your big ideas.
With effort and luck, you’ll become less of a THEM and more of an US to that person. And neither of your hearts will seem quite as cold.
*See Johnathan Haidt’s, The Righteous Mind: Why good people are divided by politics and religion (2012).