One of us read a speech excerpt that was printed in a newspaper from a politician with whom he strongly disagreed. The next week, he heard the exact same speech clip playing on a radio station. He was shocked by how different his reaction was toward the politician when he read the excerpt compared to when he heard it. When he read the statement, the politician seemed idiotic, but when he heard it spoken, the politician actually sounded reasonable.Schroeder’s research also found the participants who listened to or watched the communicators talk were also less likely to dehumanize them–a phenomenon where we subconsciously belittle or demonize the cognitive capabilities and moral attributes of people who hold views other than our own. So whether it’s convincing a stranger that #MeToo matters, discussing politics with a friend, or explaining to other board members why your vision of the company is the right one, here are three tips to communicate effectively to give your argument the chance of being truly understood.
We’ve all been there: those times you need to argue your point of view to someone who you know disagrees with you. You immediately go to your keyboard and start to type out that 280-character tweet, the Facebook reply, or a paragraphs-long email. Surely the reason, logic, and sheer power of your written words will convince whoever it is who disagrees with you to see your point of view? But new research suggests these written arguments may not be the best approach.
That research was conducted by Juliana Schroeder, assistant professor of management of organizations at the Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley, and her colleagues. In Schroeder’s study of almost 300 people, participants were asked to watch, listen, and read arguments about subjects they agreed or disagreed with, including abortion, music, and war. They were asked to judge the character of the communicator and the quality or veracity of the argument. Schroeder’s team found that the participants who watched or listened to the communicator were less dismissive of their claims than when they read that communicator’s same argument.
Schroeder’s findings have obvious implications for all forums for communication, especially those in the workplace. The idea for her study came from a newspaper article about a politician, she told the Washington Post: