You Can’t Change Opinions By Force

Gain Converts By Better Methods — Not Screaming

Photo by Randy Colas on Unsplash

Ours is a turbulent age, or so we think. Everyone has an opinion and will generally share it with you whether asked or not.

It’s really not so surprising if you think about it.

  • How many different flavors of ice cream are there?
  • How many different brands of car are there?
  • How many different styles of clothes are there?

Opinions are nothing new. Even extreme reactions towards others’ opinions are nothing new. You don’t have to go far back into history to find one religious sect wiping out another because of a disagreement on opinion.

Civil wars tear countries and kingdoms apart throughout time.

Think back to high school when the teacher forced you to read that page turner “Romeo And Juliet”. What was that about? A feud between families that erupted into bloodshed and threatened to keep the two main characters apart. Perhaps the turbulence we see today is just more of the same. We bang heads over opinions in the worst possible ways.

As a human we generally cherish our opinions. Since it works for us, why shouldn’t it work for everyone? All those who see things a different way are just ignorant. If you don’t see things my way, I’ll just scream at you and insult you. Perhaps I’ll isolate you because I see you as toxic. Why can’t you see that my way is the best way?

This has generally been the way of the world throughout the ages. When history doesn’t follow this past, it’s almost a unique exception worth noting. But, is fighting really the best way to win others over to your side?

If you watch the news and media, it would appear that way.

Lines of protestors yelling at another group. Some even pointing at others and screaming “Shame!” over and over. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that may not be the best way to get your point across. For some strange reason, I don’t think calling someone an idiot or shameful is the best way to win them over to your point of view.

Actions Speak Volumes Over Words

It’s easy to say things, but much harder to do and live them. In the past and recent times, some innovative thinkers have bucked the trend and gained converts in different ways.

Instead of screaming and forcing their opinions down the throat of another, they’ve attempted to win them over. By living out their ideas, acts became their argument.

By being a sterling embodiment of their opinions, they won others over. By choosing this path, they didn’t have to kill or eliminate those who disagreed with them. They didn’t have to use the government to pass laws to force people to walk in line with their opinions as well.

There’s something to be learned here for everyone. I do mean everyone; including myself.

I can think of a few characters immediately who’ve embodied this method of acting out their argument to win over converts. Some of them come from ancient history and one group is acting today. It also appears that this method works over a variety of topics too.

Win Converts With A Better Burger

Screen Capture From Impossible Foods Website
“I love vegetarians and vegans as much as the next guy, but that is not the customer we care about.”
Pat Brown, founder and CEO of Impossible Foods

Pat Brown had an opinion about meat. It was bad for the environment and cruel to animals. So, he decided to do something about it.

That something wasn’t screaming at people eating hamburgers. He’d build a better burger and win these people over. The Stanford biochemist would design a replacement burger from plants.

His burger would be everything a meat lover craves. From the texture, to the juices, he’d give the consumer what they wanted. He wouldn’t isolate or ignore his ‘opponents’, he’d give them something they’d love to attract them.

According to an article in CNBC, Brown would mix a combination of soy and potato proteins, coconut and sunflower oils, and blood-like plant protein he calls “heme” to create an imitation hamburger.

Brown would study meat to see what gave it the desired flavor. Once that protein was isolated, he’d incorporate that flavor into his burger.

His results have been stunning. He’s captured large corporate customers like Burger King and White Castle. The Impossible Whopper is expected to be available in 7300 locations by the end of 2019.

The demand for his product is so high, he’s had to bring in volunteers to man extra shifts at his production plant to keep up.

Pat Brown didn’t shame others to his point of view. He won them over by giving them a better version of what they wanted. He acted out his argument to win over converts. In this case actions truly spoke louder than words.

Live Your Philosophy

Socrates — Picture From UtDicitur @ Wikipedia Creative Commons

If you’ve ever had any kind of class in philosophy, you’ve read works of Socrates. Even if you’ve never seen his works, you know his name.

Is his fame just due to his writing abilities? That’s where things get murky. As far as we know, Socrates never wrote anything. All information known on Socrates came from other writers.

His own work may have just been lost to history, or perhaps he never did put anything down on paper. In the end it doesn’t matter. What made Socrates influential was more than his words — it was his actions.

Socrates didn’t just teach a way of life, he lived this way of life that he taught.

In his book, A Guide To The Good Life, William Irvine examines the life of Socrates and the stoics.

He mentions Professor Luis E. Navia, an author of 20 books on philosophy. Navia describes Socrates in the following way:

“In Socrates perhaps more than in any other major philosopher, we come upon the example of a man who was able to integrate in his life theoretical and speculative concerns in the context of his daily activities.”

Navia goes on to call Socrates, “A veritable paradigm of philosophical activity both in thought and deed.”

The teachings of Socrates weren’t alone what gained him fame. It was how he lived according to those teachings. He would go on even to die for his beliefs, when speaking the truth ran afoul of the government.

Although he could avoid his death sentence by giving up philosophy and aggravating the government, he chose to willingly drink poison. Living his philosophy was more important than his own life.

This dedication would attract followers, such as Plato and Antisthenes. They would carry on Socrates’ teachings. So without a written word, his example would carry on for thousands of years after his death.

Irvine in his book would also go on to mention the ancient stoics and how they lived their ideals too. Many would be banished for their beliefs — Seneca and Epictetus in particular.

Epictetus would never come back to Rome. He created a school in Greece that became wildly popular. Perhaps his example that he practiced what he preached had something to do with it.

Even after thousands of years, the ancient stoics still have an audience for their writings. However, it isn’t just their written word that truly attracts followers — it’s how they lived. It’s also the promise of giving the reader an action plan for a better life.

Be A Living Example Of You Opinion

It’s easy to berate others. It’s easy to insult others. It’s also easy to isolate others for beliefs you disagree with. However, this is highly unlikely to win them over to your point of view.

If you truly want to make inroads or change someone’s opinion, be a living example of your ideas. If you can be a shining example of your belief, you don’t need to scream. You don’t need to change laws to make people follow your example. People will follow you of their own accord.

This method has worked for Pat Brown, Socrates, and the stoics. It’s universal across subject matters, whether it be philosophy, environment, religion, education, or whatever floats your boat.

It may seem harder to win others to your side by action and example. However if you consider the combination of aggravation and frustration created by conflict, gaining converts by example is much less taxing.

Thank you for reading my ramblings. If you enjoyed what you’ve read, please share.