Wednesday, 1 April 2009


I'm afraid this is disconnected; I started it with mixed ideas of what I meant to say. Anyway:

All the participants in these three conversations would like, I think, to have both of two things:

(a) good dancing - to have a thoroughly pleasant evening
(b) good gardening - to welcome new participants and have a vigorous community, reflecting normal life, that renews itself and is not, for example, so elderly or so insane that any single woman under fifty-five must endure the pity and ridicule of her peers for participating at all.

But a moment's thought about human realities will tell you these aims are sometimes in conflict. Looking at it from the point of view of any given individual, the new participants welcomed in (b) will not necessarily have the same idea of what constitutes (a) as you do.

It makes sense, then, to do a little gardening; to take whatever steps you think may be effective to influence the opinions of newbies in such a direction that you get both. When you're doing a new thing, you're looking for ideas and very happy to give them a hearing.

People adopt the opinons of others they respect. That means that if you want to persuade people of something, it's very effective to behave kindly and respectably, and at the same time to let your opinions be known.

Another very effective course is to catch people's imagination and persuade them to go along, even temporarily, with some aesthetic idea. This is the central skill of any talented performer.

The third obvious method is actually putting your case. If you think one thing is better than another, and you want to persuade someone else that it's so, you have to explore details of what it is you think, and why. You have to put your thoughts in order, specify what they are, find out why you think them, consider why anyone else might want them, consider the limitations of your arguments, consider the problems they'll encounter, put them out there, and give people the opportunity to adopt them, if they like. That's the approach you have to take for someone who's already asking questions, or someone you would like to ask questions.

But, anyway, sooner or later, people also test their new opinions against reality to see how they get on. That's when your case stands or falls. But if you've thought about it, maybe it will stand. Even opinions picked up by affinity or enthusiasm do quite often get examined in the end.

I am a curious person, and rather easily persuaded of new ideas, if they seem convincing. My friends might also say that I hurl the unconvincing ones out of high windows with unnecessary force, occasionally wrongly, but that's a necessary part of the process for me.

But I am not easily persuaded of things that haven't been mentioned, described, or explained to me. Because I don't know what they are.

Without communication, persuasion is impossible.

1 comment:

ghost said...

For me it's an odd blend of clarity and chaos. You need to ask yourself "what" and "why" - and then ask the same of your answers until you get down to the heart of what it is you actually want. Then offer people that. Then accept the "Sophie's World" effect of letting actual human beings loose on your precious idea.

And above all remember J M Straczynski's words
"The most important skills in life are knowing when to walk into a room and when to walk out"

Be interesting to see how others approach it...