Convincing the Questioner
Q. I’ve watched you answering questions at your presentations and your style puzzles me. You replied with either the report of research data or gave your own brain’s opinion—and then went right on to the next question. You didn’t even try to convince the questioner to see things your way. Isn’t that a bit shortsighted?
A. I suppose that would depend on your definition of the term shortsighted. One definition is nearsighted or myopic or blind as a bat. Another is lacking foresight. Under the theory that "a brain convinced against its will is of the same opinion still," my goal is not to convince another brain of something but rather to challenge that brain to think.
I am crystal clear that no one knows everything and it would be arrogant to suppose one did or to act as if one did. When asked a question, my modus operandi is to use one or more of the following:
- Share information from research with which I am familiar.
- Tell the questioner if I know of no research that bears on the question
- State that this is out of my area of study
- Provide my brain’s opinion, if other research may shed light on the question.
Once I’ve done one of the above, I move on to another question. I have no agenda for others to take my opinion as their own and I refuse to argue. Arguing, especially if one is trying to convince another person of something, tends to create angst and tension and can suppress immune system function. That is not my goal.
When I was asked previously the reason that I do not argue or try to convince another person against their will, this was my response: “Perhaps a true test of humility is that when you have been asked for your opinion and have given it as honestly as possible, you are indifferent to whether it is taken or not, and you never persist in trying to convince the questioner otherwise.” My brain’s opinion is that to do otherwise would represent low levels of emotional intelligence.