Want To Persuade? Do it Right.

If you would persuade someone, or convince them that the idea they are putting forward is not true, you must be honest about what they say they believe.  If you are, then you can logically lay out your case.  If you are not, the possibility of changing their way of thinking is over.  If you are purposely dishonest about or distort what someone else believes, you will not win them over.  And those others that you may win over will be because of deception, not truth.

I see this played out in the political world every day.  One side will grossly exaggerate or even lie about what the other believes in an effort to…well, I’m not quite sure what the effort is really for, honestly.

For example, it’s often said that conservatives oppose immigration.  We do not.  We oppose illegal immigration.  Those who would seek to come here in the manner that our law specifies are welcome.  It’s the blatant breaking of the law that bothers us.  To say there’s no difference is as illogical as to say there’s no difference between driving the proper speed and in speeding while driving intoxicated.  One is right, the other is blatantly against the law.

Another more recent example is the debate over the tax bill that recently passed.  I read a little bit about it, and I liked what I saw.  Lower income and middle class people get some much needed tax relief.  Not only is the tax rate going down for most people, the standard deduction and child tax credits are nearly doubling.  It can mean a family who earns $30,000 a year can see several hundred dollars of tax savings this year.  Pretty cool.  But depending on who you listen to, you wouldn’t know it.

In fact, if you listened to certain folks, you’d think the poor and the middle class are being drastically hurt by this bill.  Take these headlines for example:

CNN Money: “One-Third of Middle Class Families Could End Up Paying More Under the GOP Tax Plan”

New York Times: “Paul Ryan’s Middle-Class Tax Hike”

Washington Post: “Senate tax bill would cut taxes of wealthy and increase taxes on families earning less than $75,000 by 2027”

And this quote from Democrat House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi:

“Today, we face a GOP tax scam that raises taxes on 86 million middle-class families,”

I guess it shouldn’t be surprising then that a lot more Americans think their taxes will actually be going up, not down.

It’s an example of those who are opposed to something being dishonest about what their opposition believes and the legislation they have put forth.  It shows an unwillingness to debate, and really, it sends a signal that they know they would lose said debate.

“But why would they do that?” you may ask.  Here’s the main reason: the tax bill also benefits the wealthy and corporations, by lowering their taxes as well.  Now, if we want to debate whether that is a good idea, then let us debate that.  But saying that the Republicans will raise taxes on the middle class with this tax bill, that they want to benefit the rich and harm the poor, is not true.

And yet, you see this message repeated practically everywhere in the media.  And depending on who you trust to report the news, you could believe something that’s untrue.  I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand it when I believe something that I later find out to be false.

I would encourage you to understand the position of those you would disagree with.  At the very least, it will help you present your case more compellingly.  It can also lead you to understand why the other person came to their conclusion and what is behind that, which can lead to other conversations.

But as you understand their position, be honest about it.  The alternative will get you nowhere if you want to change minds.