How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
The ChangingMinds Blog!
Jumping on ice
We took our two dogs for a walk recently. Tika is dignified German Shepherd who likes to trot, sniff and say hello to other dogs. Poppy is a working strain Golden Retriever who loves to run and leap in and out of the lake around which we often stroll.
Poppy's normal mad-yahoo leap into the lake as we arrived was rudely interrupted by a layer of ice, the presence of which turned her normal boisterous splash into a confusing crunch as she landed on the ice and then fell through. We weren't worried as the edge of the lake is shallow so we knew she wouldn't be harmed. The ice, however, rather perplexed Poppy, who thereafter would dash up to the edge of the lake and suddenly shy away, as the memory of the uncomfortable crunch-through triggered feelings of danger.
We are constantly predicting what will happen next and, when things do not turn out as expected, we quickly become confused and disoriented. This effect is more pronounced when more strongly held beliefs are dashed. Poppy's entire experience said that water was soft, and to find it hard must have been especially confusing.
When a fundamental belief is dashed, we may wonder what else we held to be true is now not true and hence call into question a whole system of beliefs.
The effect can go beyond the individual to other people and whole societies. When Rutherford split the atom he threw the scientific community, whose other theories were based on an indivisible atom, into turmoil.
And when the ice is broken on spiritual beliefs, the result can be even stronger. Darwin's discoveries challenged fundamental Christian beliefs and it was thirty years before he dared publish his findings. Even today there are many who cling to religious beliefs of divine creation rather than accept that we are descended from dinosaurs.
Many of our beliefs are like thin ice which, when shattered, plunge us into the shocking waters of the unknown. In such terrifying circumstances, rational thought is replaced by emotional and primitive reaction.
When you want to change another person's mind, even (and maybe especially) if you have good evidence to support your argument, consider the effect that this will have on their beliefs. Think about how they will cope with the shock and the stress and hence make sure you are ready to handle objections and other resistance.
Do you really think we are descended from dinosaurs?? Presumably this means
originally amoeba forms?? That amoeba could possibly provide all the diversity
of life forms? Yup, has definite issues with a spectrum of beliefs!
I haven't personally observed evolution, but it makes more sense to me than
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