I am convinced that a presentation of logic is often not enough to convince a believer on any topic to develop a new point of view. What then is the impetus to a new perspective? ♦
There is a lot of struggle we have as individuals, as groups, and even as nations in unifying on any philosophy, religion, economics, politics, you name it. We all have our own belief or perspective on any matter. And we cluster around those who think like us and believe like is.
It’s human nature. And it’s easier.
You see we gather around like-minded people and read like-minded publications and attend like-minded associations and group meetings because it’s convenient, safe, more natural, less disruptive, easier to absorb. It’s easy. And we get our reinforcement and support and education and identity and even strength from that collective clustering which serves to edify our stance and beliefs in that which we consistently stand.
We can see that it is difficult to come off one’s stance or belief perspective given this natural development. No small amount of logic or presentation of facts will easily sway one from their thinking. In fact, I am convinced that a presentation of logic is often not enough to convince a believer on any topic to develop a new point of view.
Assuming that all things cannot be right and true, what then is the impetus to a new perspective?
“You’re Much Too Smart to Believe That!”
After a civil and fair-minded exchange of ideas on Christianity vs. atheism, I once had a colleague/friend make a summary claim: “Mike, you’re much too smart to believe that!” Of course, this comment was offensive but actually understandable. In his view, no rational litany of my perspective was enough to hold sway against his own firmly entrenched belief systems. I was foolish to think I could convince, or daresay convert him in one dialogue no matter how brilliantly my side was articulated. Likewise, there was no way I would so easily succumb to his own reasoning and logic prowess in that setting.
It was an invigorating debate, that’s all. And there’s nothing wrong with that. We each went away unchanged.
But if one really wants to impact another person’s thinking and even shake the underpinnings of their own personal philosophy on any matter or topic, one needs to reset expectations and even discussion tactics.
4 Keys to Persuasive Discussions
In any general discussion/debate, I believe there are 4 keys to effectively opening firm mindsets:
- Be the Messenger, Not the Closer – in discussing anything worthwhile, even a sales presentation, keep in mind that the One-Call Close is actually a rare thing except in selling easy commodity items. Deep issues, philosophies, ideas of substance are “sold” over an extended “sales cycle” after several iterations and research. Sell/discuss/present accordingly.
- Speak Your Experience, Not Your Data – certainly data and proof points are valuable in any persuasive discussion/debate, but they are often overwhelmed and even trumped by your own or another’s personal story or experience. Nothing speaks louder, or at least cannot easily be refuted, than true living data.
- Exchange Real Information, Not Talking Points – information flowing out of thought-provoking discussions come in all forms: bulletin highlights, surveys, research articles, authoritative books, websites, videos, etc., etc. While being careful not to overwhelm, a well-structured article, study, or book (even chapter) are often more tangibly absorbed as a follow-up tactic than mere verbal acrobatics.
- Follow-up Patiently, Even Graciously – as mentioned, not every deal is won on the first call. One practical rule in my sales book is to “Live to Sell Another Day” – that is, don’t overstay your welcome but be sensitive and keep the lines of communication open. After any thoughtful discussion, set up a follow-up time for continued discussion, particularly after reviewing appropriate exchanged information. Staying in steady and reasonable contact can lead to a more open and trusting relationship.
If you follow these guidelines then one can’t help but become more effective and persuasive in personal discussions and debates on any topic of import. But does this work for talks about one’s faith or religious beliefs?
But What About Religious Beliefs?
Yes, the 4 keys listed above do work in all discussions, even personal discussions about one’s Christian faith. In that setting, however, I would add a 5th key:
5. Pray Without Ceasing. as God Changes Hearts – as Christians we truly can be vehicles for the Spirit of God to move, mold, and even melt the hearts of any man or woman. We should pray in advance, during, and after these verbal discussions. “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” – Ezekiel 36:26
Truth is Truth. It’s not relative. The existence of the One True God and His hand in Creation and intervention in human history is not fiction or opinion but already revealed and available to anyone who comes with an open mind and seeking heart. Our mission is to preach the Word of God and be a Witness and Testify to His Coming as the Savior of the world. It’s actually not a sales job – it’s an opportunity to be a living testimony and share a valued treasure, Good News, with other seekers often unaware of their own dire heartfelt need.
How we exactly do that is subject to errors and misses. We can and should be clear, knowledgeable, patient, and kind, presenting ourselves and our story with grace in love. God does the changing; we can really only plant seeds and nurture those seeds over time. We’re to be like able field-hands. The harvest is all His.
Are you effective in selling Christianity?
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.” – Luke 4:18