Posted by: JDM..... | January 22, 2017

Persuasion…

provocation, and knowing the difference….


These are active times, reminding me somewhat of the turbulent sixties. At various times in recent years there have been upwards of more than a million people marching, or vandalizing, or both, for one reason or another. When an incident erupts into such public displays, the boiling point was clearly reached long before. The sad part is, it is hard to respond in a positive way to post-boiling point cascades of anger, grief, and violence whether it be physical, verbal, emotional, or some other force-based language of expression. The dilemma is that more civilized attempts to initiate desired changes may seem to be ignored. That is a misperception, but very few down through the centuries and millennia have had the wisdom and restraint to know that. Most recently perhaps, the late Dr. Martin Luthor King set the pace with a steady, peaceful, and determined consistency. After his assassination, and perhaps in many ways perhaps because of it, the people returned to their baser natural behaviors of violence. That has not yet changed.

Saturday, women from coast to coast filled the streets to express their concerns, goals, and complaints. As with the recent Black Lives Matter actions, the underlying reasons are real, and they are numerous. Whether they are justified, or reasonable, and whether or not the “message” has been effectively delivered depends on one’s point of view, but therein lies the key to resolution for any such conflict of interests. Historically, “differences of opinion” have “ended” almost exclusively in one of two ways: (1) peaceful communication, or (2) violence, where the one demonstrating the most power and destruction declares victory. Such “differences of opinion” have actually been resolved, however, only when true communication and discussion are engaged in. Any other conclusion is not one of agreement or even of compromise but one of compliance, and that only lasts as long as the power of force and threats of harm remain in control.

That said, when I see a “protest” or “demonstration” or even an outright riot featured on the evening news, I have two questions in mind:

First, I ask what it is that the participants really want. Bottom line. Twenty-five words or less.

Secondly, I ask “are they expressing what they want in ways that those to whom they are expressing it can feel comfortable and safe listening?”

If it is your goal for another person to make changes in his or her behaviors and/or mindset, then it is in your best interests to get your ideas across clearly and civilly. You are involved in a selling situation and your goal is to convince someone who doesn’t know you to “buy” an intangible product/idea that they either do not want or do not yet believe they need. That is not as impossible as it may sound. Untold hundreds of thousands of people have in the past earned, and are currently earning lucrative incomes by doing exactly that.

So I ask, as I see the throngs of humanity dominating the streets and open spaces of cities and towns across the nation, how are they doing? Whether or not one agrees with their message is irrelevant.

Well, some of them are doing an admirable job of maintaining their civility, their dignity, and focusing on their real long term goals. As a result, people who disagree with them, scoff at them, or simply don’t value their opinions very much are far more likely to receive the message the demonstrators are trying to convey, to acknowledge a point or two here and there, and maybe actually inch toward that long term goal sought by the demonstrators. Others are more confrontational, “in your face”, and, in my opinion, less likely, perhaps even highly unlikely, to be successful than the former. Yet others, and I like to believe they are a small minority, are only there for the party, so to speak. They’d demonstrate against air if the activity provided an opportunity act out under cover of mob camouflage, to throw bricks and fire bombs, or in some other way to simply give the finger generically. Serious protesters and demonstrators would do well to tell them to go home.

This is not to say that if everybody says please and thank you everything will work out all peachy-keen. Heck, no! Life doesn’t work that way. And it’s true, sometimes “nice guys come in last.” But I have to ask, what kind of a world do we want to live in, …..one where we only get our way through violence and control? I know, that’s the way the world is and always has been as far as we know. But we don’t have to contribute to that sad legacy any more than might be necessary in order to defend ourselves and our property. It’s simple. Never be the aggressor. I said simple, not easy.

So, what do the women who filled the streets of America Saturday really want? Bottom line…. Twenty five words, or twenty five hundred, who cares?

And, secondly, are they expressing what it is that they want in ways that those to whom they are expressing it can feel comfortable and safe listening?

How likely is it that the communications methodology being used would contribute to successful realization of the goals of a salesman?

How likely is it that the communications methodology being used would contribute to successful realization of the goals of a teacher?

And, last but not least, did the media capture the core essence and purpose of the demonstrations, or just the juicy and controversial parts that help sell advertising…..?

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