Become Friends First

The famed economist J.K. Galbraith once said in regards to changing one’s mind:

Faced with a choice between changing one’s mind and proving there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy with the proof.

So true, right?

We’ll spend an incredible amount of time building a defense for an existing belief while spending very little time, in contrast, to uncover or learn something new that we may not have otherwise, originally, believed.

Galbraith isn’t the only one to have understood this interesting—and often-times confounding, human trait and behavior:

The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.

Leo Tolstoy

I get to experience this weekly as I have the (good?) fortune to meet a lot of incredibly smart and intelligent folks here in the San Francisco / Bay Area; the problem is that many of them are so certain of their own beliefs that they have very little time or patience for alternatives.

I encounter this specifically with the ideas and concepts of decentralization, Bitcoin, and blockchain technology—many of them have already decided that such things are false, a scam, plain stupid, or simply a waste of time and energy.

This is sad because this very industry desperately needs these types of folks, the absolute best and brightest to be working and building what I believe will be an inevitable future.

Changing one’s mind is not a sign of weakness or limited mental horsepower—in fact, quite the opposite.

But what is the most effective way to get someone else to change their mind about something? It’s not about facts, figures, sexy infographics or heavily-produced videos; rather, building a friendly relationship is all that is really required.

In other words, building a friendship is the most effective way to change anyone’s mind; we all know this from first-hand experience as an opinion or perspective that we once held strongly now feels foreign and strange, simply because someone we trust and respect thinks differently.

And, over time, as we’ve come to build that relationship and grow in knowledge (and even wisdom?) we decided, at some point, to change our mind; that’s kind of neat.

Become friends first and then you’ll have all of the leverage that you’ll really need to change someone’s mind.

But… that was never the point, now, was it?