People are irrational animals. There are a lot of scientists who believe we don’t even have free will. An (otherwise objectionable) writer once cleverly referred to humans as “moist robots” because we merely react to our programming and stimulus.
Is it any surprise then other moist robots’ decisions confuse the heck out of us?
The fact is in most decisions emotion trumps logic. Even decisions that we think were arrived at via rational thought usually have a large element of emotion.
We are wired to listen to our hearts and guts over our brains. Perhaps in the past, it helped us get away faster from massive, snarly things with sharp pointy teeth.
What were your biggest or most important financial decisions of the last decade? I am guessing among them will be:
- Your home
- Your car
- Your career
- Your vacations
How often did emotion factor hugely in the final reckoning? How you feel is a powerful factor in how you think.
I was reminded of this the other day when my Dad discussed his dentist. He has been visiting this dentist for as long as I can remember. As soon as I had a say in the decision I was out of there. This man botched more operations than I was prepared to put up with. Most memorably I had to have another dentist sort out the mess he made of two attempts at root canal. Two! That’s three root canal operations together! In the same area!
But my Dad still goes there. He has this loyalty thing going on. Dad likes the way the dentist knows him, he knows the dentist. They have nice conversations … while he overcharges him for bad dental work. Grrr.
No argument from me is going to change my Dad’s mind. I might be pushing him into a more entrenched position.
What can we learn about this? Well, apart from the fact my Dad is loyal to the point of being stubborn, there are a couple of takeaways:
- Appeal to emotion as well as logic – Rather than a simple set of features in your argument, you need to put those across in a way that will appeal to a person’s emotional needs.
- Feelings count more than we think – Many of our loyalties and purchases come down more to how they make us feel than what we get. I like the Starbucks atmosphere as well as the drinks. I bought a Mac laptop without considering if it had good performance versus a Dell. Our house was more expensive and less convenient than other similarly featured properties in the area. How are you making your audience feel?
- The more you push the more entrenched opinions become – You can’t change an opinion with force. You can’t often change opinions. What you can do is work with the persons existing opinions and show there is a better way.