The human species is a deeply social one. You exist, to be sure, in a world made of objects and devices and weather and tools, a very physical world. However in a very real sense, you exist primarily in a world made up of other people. To attain happiness, to achieve your goals, even just to stay alive, you depend on the people around you. All those people also exist in a world made up of each other, and of you.
As such, we all spend much of our lives influencing and being influenced by each other. Most of this influence is a good thing, we teach each other valuable lessons, cooperate on difficult tasks, band together for reasons personal, political and practical. Each one of us a link in the massive human social network. Each influencing the other beings we come into contact with. Evolution has selected us for these tasks. Both for being easily influenced, so that we can learn from and be helped by others, and for influencing others so that we can teach others and profit from cooperation.
This month we’ll be talking about ways you can learn to more effectively influence others, hopefully for mutual beneficial gain.
People are deeply emotional beings, who do most of their thinking with their gut. Not in a literal sense, of course. The gut is good for digestion but doesn’t do any actual thinking at all. However the gut is also a metaphor for an emotional sizing up, a rough heuristic. Your emotions tell you though what can feel like your gut how you respond to a problem, a suggestion, a person, a sight, a sound, a taste, indeed just about anything. People trust their guts, and so they should. These emotional responses have evolved over millions of years, longer than we have been human, to rapidly assess and evaluate things and drive the actions of creatures large and small. Higher level conscious rational thought is much slower, and often even less reliable, certainly requires training and time and deep introspection to master.
All of which means that if you wish to influence others, your appeals to them need to be directed towards the systems in their brain which they will actually use to judge whether or not to act on and be influenced by those appeals. You need to direct your attempts not at a person’s best interest, not at their calculating economic models, but at their gut. To influence another being you need to change the way they feel, not just explain their mis-logic or irrational steps. Indeed, trying to show how somebody is wrong will likely be counter-productive, it will make them feel defensive, get their gander up, fill them with negative emotions making them want to withdraw from you not advance towards your coalition.
As we’ve mentioned many times in the Transcendence Institute literature, human minds can be modeled very effectively as association machines. Your task isn’t to explain why your desired outcome is the most rational, or the most cost effective, or the most useful or even the most sane. It’s to associate your desired outcome with positive emotions which will make those you seek to influence feel good about that outcome, to want it with their guts. To make them feel good about you, personally to feel as though you are on their side, to want to please you because it will feel emotionally satisfying for them to do so.
Next week we’ll discuss some ways to lead the emotions of the people you come into contact with. How to try to produce these positive emotional associations in their minds.
Despite all we have said above, human beings aren’t just emotional association devices. They also do have a thinking side, and once you have made them want to cooperate with you, you’ll likely need to give them reasons for doing so. Perhaps even logically convince them. In week three of this month we’ll talk a little about argumentation. An argument can only augment the emotional appeals and associations you’ll have already given to those you wish to cooperate with, those things which they will actually use to make up their minds. However, it can also provide a forum for presenting those subtle emotional appeals and certainly can sway a person who’s feeling equally good about two courses of action.
Finally, in the fourth week this month we’ll present a guided lucid dream in which you’ll practice these emotional skills and argumentation techniques, practising them to improve your abilities and further grow to understand them. In a gut-thinking sense, rather than a linguistic one.