Thursday, August 27, 2009

What's New


22 years ago today - also on a Thursday, in fact - I went off to college full-time for the first time. As with most people, college certainly is a life-changer. In my case, experiences in college started to bring home to me the problems with the ways I was behaving toward others.

Back home, I was to some extent shielded from the social consequences of my actions because the teachers knew I was a "good kid" (albeit mouthy) and I wasn't committing any crimes. People may not have liked me, but I still did pretty well in class, was inducted into the National Honor Society and (eventually) got into and graduated from an Ivy League school.

To some extent during high school, more so during college and mainly during graduate/law/B-school (if you go that route) and beyond, subjective factors matter. You may have a "right" to be invited into your school's chapter of the National Honor Society if your GPA is at least a certain level and you have no felony convictions. But no one has to make your life halfway pleasant as a roommate, date you, invite you to join a club, rent a room in their house to you or hire you - or keep you or persuade others to take you once you've left.

For that matter, college admissions itself - particularly for selective schools - is quite subjective. Any college or university which turns down at least, say, one out of four applicants is sending away some who are qualified to go there and who can do the work. The school just can't take even every qualified person who applies. Choices have to be made on subjective, gut level matters of preference.

Welcome to the rest of your life. We all need to persuade people, every week if not every day, to do what we want. Often we're competing with others who want them to do things their way and not yours. Precisely because logic is universal, your competitors can use it just as well as you. You do need to appeal to others' reason, but what will put you over the top?

Getting them to personally like you and your ideas. Your competitors can imitate your logic, but they can't actually be you.

Here are some good ideas for persuading people, from Mark Bennett...a defense attorney who has to persuade juries on a regular basis. He has a good reputation as an effective defense lawyer, and that means he understands that just as the jurors didn't pick what to eat for last night's dinner just by looking at the nutrition label, they won't pick which side to favor in court just by listening to the logic and evidence. Mr. Bennett knows that whomever the jurors like more has a sizable edge. And that's in a court of law governed by objective rules dedicated to treating everyone as fairly as possible.

What do you think?

PS: I'm starting up a free email newsletter on communication skills, adapting as an Aspie in an NT world and recognizing and working with Aspies. You'll get special content beyond what's on here. (You'll also get access to special deals from me. Your contact information will never be given to others.) Go ahead and drop me a line to join!

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