Do you know the difference between presenting ideas and trying to persuade someone?
We’re attempting to persuade someone when we’re convinced we’re right and we’re trying to get the other person to agree with us. If this is the case, we shouldn’t pretend to be seeking their opinion.
We’re presenting when we calmly and humbly share our ideas either for consideration or to let someone know how we feel about something. Then we’ll respectfully listen to their opinions, even if they differ from ours.
I’ll share an example of a mistake I made and then an example of how I could have done it better.
Our 8 year old daughter had been invited to a slumber party by a classmate. My husband and I had never met the family. After telling my husband about the invitation, I asked, “Should we let her go?”
He said, “Sure.”
Then I said, “Well, we’ve never met the parents and I don’t know what kind of environment she might be stepping into.”
He said, “Do whatever you want. You’ve obviously already made up your mind.” Then he left the room.
In his mind, I had not left any room for discussion.
Here’s how I could have better presented the information: After telling him about the invitation, I would say, “I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I’m glad she’s making new friends and I want her to have fun, but on the other hand, I’ve never met the parents and I don’t know what kind of environment she might be stepping into. What are your thoughts?”
Having presented my concerns, we could then discuss it and come up with a decision together.
If we’re genuinely seeking someone’s opinion, it’s best to share all of our concerns and ideas before asking for their opinion, so they fully understand our perspective before they share theirs. When we’re simply presenting ideas for consideration and discussion, we won’t want the other person to feel like we’re arguing with them or trying to persuade them to agree with us.
In closing, I’ll just say that before we enter into a discussion with someone, we should analyze our goal. Are we truly seeking their opinion, or are we hoping to persuade them to agree with ours?
Questions for meditation and discussion: (1a) Do you ever start off by presenting an idea and then find yourself trying to persuade the other person to agree with you? If so, why do you think that happens? (b) How does the other person respond? (2) Is it easy or hard for you to genuinely consider what the other person has to say? Explain.
Application homework: The next time you have ideas to share, try presenting all your concerns and ideas to your husband before you ask for his opinion (take time to prayerfully think through it first). Record how it goes.