My friend Lee used to work for a company that did Sales training. Sales is, at its very essence, about persuading people to buy something. Even if they need that something, you have to persuade them to buy yours, rather than someone else’s. And one of the big maxims Lee’s company would teach is that logic is not persuasive.
And it’s true. I have my own version of the phrase: “Don’t drag logic into a conversation where she’s not invited.”
Humans simply aren’t logical creatures. We believe things. We want information to fit within our own worldview, and we tend to instinctively reject things that don’t fit that worldview. We create our own rule sets – our own logic, in a sense – and we work to make everything fit within that. Confronted with something that can’t be squeezed into our worldview, we push back. All the laid-out logic in the world won’t change that.
So if you want to convince someone of something, you need to take the time to understand their worldview. What drives them? What drives them away? What do they want? You then persuade them based on that information – not on your logic.
I’ve actually spoken and written about this before in more specific terms. I go on and on at conferences, for example, about how IT professionals need to be better at speaking to business leaders on their terms. Want some new tool or solution brought into your environment? Want to move to DevOps? Fine – but you can’t make an argument from your logic. You can’t talk about how much faster, or easier, or whatever, things will be. That may be logical, but it’s not persuasive to a business leader. Business leaders typically care about money, and so you need to frame your argument in those terms – persuading from their point of view.
Nowhere was this more evident than in the recent US presidential election. Supports on both sides (or all four or five sides, if you like) had deeply personal reasons for supporting their candidate. Bringing in logic against their candidate (“literally everything he says is a lie,” “she’s a career politician and can’t be trusted”) was utterly ineffective at swaying them. Few people in our national conversation bothered to find out what was driving the supporters of a given candidate, and to use that to persuade them to vote differently.
So stop dragging logic into conversations where she’s not invited. Start getting inside the head of whomever you’re conversing with. Ask questions. Actively listen. And then persuade.