Pascal’s Persuasion

I read something interesting and thought-provoking in an email I received today. It centers around philosopher Blaise Pascal and something he said when it comes to disagreements. Rather than try to put it in my own words, I’m copying and pasting it here:

“Philosopher Blaise Pascal was best known for his so-called ‘wager’ that believing in God is the smartest decision, even if you’re not sure God exists. What many don’t know is that Pascal was a pioneer in the psychology of persuasion.

Heated disagreements are common in social media, writes Olivia Goldhill at ‘Quartz.’ But Pascal suggested centuries ago that if you want to convince someone of your position, you don’t begin by telling them they’re wrong. You understand where they’re coming from, admit ways they’re right, but suggest they maybe haven’t seen the whole picture

‘No one is offended at not seeing everything,’ wrote Pascal. ‘But [they don’t] like to be mistaken.’

Another tip? Lead people to the answer, but let them discover it on their own. ‘People are generally better persuaded by reasons they have themselves discovered than by those from the minds of others.’

These are great tips, especially for Christians, who are entrusted with the most important truths there are, and who are to speak those truths in love.”

I think an additional aid in persuasion is listening to understand and not merely to reply. When the other senses that you care enough to take in what they are saying, they will be much more likely to listen to you in return. When they sense you’re interested in cultivating a relationship over time and not merely in preaching to them, they will be open to what you have to say.

Here’s the link to the article in full:

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