Nothing persuades like a conversation

To take a new turn in your thinking, try treating a rhetorical question literally.

For example, instead of wailing ‘😩 WHY do people still like Boris Johnson?!?’, actually try to answer the question. Why, indeed? 🤔

The problem is, social media stopped us listening.

‘What’s happening?’ it demands. ‘What do you think?’

So you post your quiet, equivocal, unpopular opinion – and it disappears without trace. As you quickly discover, insults, outrage and condemnation are what really get traction.

Nuance, reflection, listening to others – all these are optional. There are no gold stars for taking time over a post, no blue ticks for appreciating a different view. Just post and interact, will you – otherwise, what will the poor advertisers have to target?

Newsflash: your brain can contain opposing ideas without exploding.

For example, you know that two’s company, three’s a crowd… but you also know that the more the merrier.

You know that birds of a feather flock together… yet you also know that opposites attract.

In the real world, opposition isn’t necessarily a problem. It’s just how communication works.

We form relationships through two-sided dialogue, and we reach agreement and make decisions by working through our differences and resolving the tensions between opposing ideas.

Talking things over shows us how, when and where different ideas are useful – and, as a result, how we ourselves should act. The theory is known as relational dialectics.

Of course, dialogue takes two. So if you want to persuade a reader, forget about hectoring them or bombarding them with facts. Instead, take the tone of a sympathetic spouse, relative, friend or colleague, and show them both sides of the story. After all, who would YOU rather talk to?

Read more about changing the reader’s mind in chapter 17 of How to Write Clearly.

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