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Reblogged:Berkun on 'They Don't Get It'

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It's a decade-old post, but Scott Berkun's "The Fallacy of 'They Don't Get It'" is highly relevant to anyone interested in persuasion. I recall running into the post and deciding to bookmark it because of my own frustration at the time with a group of people I otherwise respected who would frequently discuss an issue in exactly this manner.

I was one of the people who didn't "get it" and knew I'd want to revisit the issue some time later.1

On the issue of persuasion, Berkun nails what's wrong with this phrase in his second paragraph:

If only it were so simple for us to find and speak the truth! (Image by Brett Jordan, via Unsplash, license.)
From political movements, to particular professions, they don't get it is a pseudo-rallying cry of the ignored and the powerless. But it serves only to bond people in their despair, instead of rallying them towards progress. To say "They don't get it" is giving up. It spreads assumptions about the nature of ideas out into the world by pretending there is no alternative, despite the vast history that contradicts this notion. [format edits, my bold]
I agree with Berkun that this insidious phrase is both a kind of rallying cry (or even a species of virtue-signaling) and a resignation -- a resignation to a failure to persuade. I don't quite agree with Berkun on his contention that it reflects a misconception about the nature of ideas. Someone saying this might think that some other people are incapable of grasping whatever it is, and is almost certainly falling into one of the "four traps" Berkun discusses later. But I think the real problem is that the people saying this either (a) aren't really interested in persuading others, or (b) are giving up on the idea of persuading others.

Berkun's advice will certainly help: It reminds me a little of some of the things Don Watkins lays out in his Persuasion Mastery course on such issues as clarity and understanding one's audience -- with a dash of Marshall Rosenberg thrown in.

If that piques your interest, I recommend reading the whole blog post, and looking into the Watkins course and the Rosenberg book via the links above.

-- CAV

1. I am now, -- in part and in a different way than I anticipated then -- by a happy accident: I unearthed this gem while testing the search capabilities of a script I rewrote to speed along a certain step of my writing research. [back]

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