Interactions become much more interesting when rather than trying to convince people, you really seek to understand their perspective. Perhaps you will learn something new, and perhaps they will glimpse the absurdity of their position through the exploration, despite initial defensiveness.
Unless you have a good idea about how open someone is, chances are that there will always be some defensiveness. Particularly if it is a ‘charged’ topic for them. And, a good way to figure this out, is how worked-up they get about it. The greater the emotion, the greater the attachment to their point of view and the more likely that what you say will fall on deaf ears.
Remember that their perspective might mean everything to them regardless of its absurdity. They might cling to it with all their might because their very identity is invested in it. So, what are you likely to achieve with a full-on critique, no matter how rigorous? If you really want to change their mind, better to embark on an open exploration, rather than on a mission to convert.
People sense deeper motivations and any mission to convert is likely to be met with defensiveness. Even if you ‘pretend’ not to do so. So, any attempt at open exploration must be genuine!
As Galileo put it “you cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him to find it within himself”. That really is the bottom line. You are much more likely to aid this process if you come to the discussion with open-heartedness and humility. This will go a long way in disarming defensiveness.
Remember too that it could be your position that is found to be the absurd one in the end!
Harsha is a 1:1 coach and independent thinker based in London. He empowers people to find more clarity, confidence and focus in their lives — to cut through the noise, in a world so full of it. Harsha’s new book, Machine Ego: Tragedy of the Modern Mind, is now available in paperback and Kindle through Amazon.