Reframing Trumps Passion

Republicanlogo.svgDemocraticLogoWhile things are not always easy in the business world, I can’t fathom what it would be like to make a living in politics. It’s fascinating as the presidential election nears to observe the lengths candidates and parties will go to in an effort to persuade voters to their platforms. Each election cycle, the methods seem to get louder and more outrageous, with listening and consensus-building a thing of the past. Can’t we all just get along and work for a common good? What’s stopping progress to that end? Recently I found a few articles that do a great job of explaining what’s going on. Interesting reading, whether you’re politically inclined or not.

  • “Most arguments about politics never seem to get anywhere.” This lead sentence from How to argue better, according to science addresses the question of why intelligent, passionate people are rarely effective in convincing others to their point of view. It turns out that passion is not enough. Our moral foundations run strong and deep, and it’s difficult to move someone off a position that is congruent. This article does an excellent job of describing the moral foundations of the two major parties, and how arguments could be reframed to appeal to those of differing opinions. One timely example is regarding gun control.
  • The Key to Political Persuasion echoes the same theme: “In business, everyone knows that if you want to persuade people to make a deal with you, you have to focus on what they value, not what you do.” The authors also see reframing messages as the solution, but it needs to be more than a parlor game to be successful: “Maybe reframing political arguments in terms of your audience’s morality should be viewed less as an exercise in targeted, strategic persuasion, and more as an exercise in real, substantive perspective taking.” Interesting results are reported from experiments on same-sex marriage, increased military spending and making English the official language of the U.S.
  • NPR asks Is Arguing With Passion The Most Effective Way To Persuade Opponents? Nope. Reframing (again) is the solution. This brief article also gives the examples of gay marriage and English as the country’s official language.

Reframing can certainly be applied in the business arena. Too often we argue from our expert or authoritative position. How often do we think about the audiences we are trying to address and carefully articulate a rationale that more closely maps to their underlying concerns or perspective?

It’s challenging and takes time, but I believe would be more effective in the end.



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