We think if people were just reasonable, we would be able to persuade them.
If you are starting a conversation to change someone’s mind with the words
“If only you would be reasonable…”
or “It’s just common sense…”
I’ve got bad news for you…it won’t work. Because what the other person hears is
“You are mad and unreasonable”
“You aren’t as sensible as everyone else”
Why do we think we are reasonable?
As we usually know why we do things, our behaviour usually makes sense to us. We assume that others see what we do, so it makes sense to others. We believe that logic is universal, that “common sense” means the same to everyone. Intellectually we know that everyone sees things from a different perspective, but it is just so hard to remember, especially when we are passionate, upset or angry. When your emotions run riot, your brain loses much of its capacity to think logically. When we start defending our reasonable stance passionately, we’re actually less rational.. Here’s an example of how reasonable means different things to different people.
It’s not weakness
If we want to be reasonable, we should stop claiming the higher ground, attacking those who seem unreasonable. Let’s take a step back, be genuinely interested in what benefits their behaviour brings and their beliefs. It doesn’t mean that we stand by while someone does something wrong. With an understanding of what they are seeking, we are more likely to change their behaviour. Listening to the other side might just be the most effective way of bringing them onto our side. (And the most reasonable…) More tips on this