You’re never a prophet in your own land.
That’s what I tell people who are trying to make changes in my own community.
I often see the frustration of people trying to make ideas happen – expecting people to just listen to reason and logic.
What they don’t realise is that within your own community, people come to appreciate both your strengths and weaknesses. And for evolutionary reasons, the human mind tends to focus on the negative. A subconscious desire to compete with members of your own community also causes defences to naturally go up. All this, and the fear of change itself means that people are reluctant to disturb the status quo or listen to ‘reason’.
The subconscious bias towards the discrediting or dismissal of new ideas is a natural dynamic – and not something to take personally.
It is very hard to listen to someone you know without some historical judgement being applied to what they say. Everything that is said has a history accompanying it. If you want to see this dynamic for yourself, try convincing your spouse, your kids or a family member of a new idea you are passionate about, that you feel they should adopt. Watch them look sceptical or dismiss it. Resistance is more likely to arise from the history of your relationships than from what you are trying to say.
In such situations, I mischievously wonder how those ideas or thoughts can be presented by others rather than directly by me. I consider who to invite to dinner or where we need to go and visit. Yes, I contrive the ways the message can be conveyed. This approach saves me an awful lot of hassle and turns life into a beautiful curation experience rather than a struggle.
I understand that this approach may seem manipulative and underhand, to some. But I would argue that our own natural subconscious biases are manipulative and underhand – and we need to bring those systems back into balance somehow. But it is important to check your intentions. What lies behind the reasons why you do anything like this?
Understand that human beings are not logical. Therefore, expecting logical responses from others is a recipe for frustration. There are smarter, more illogical ways to open dialogue and conversation that do not involve swimming upstream against human nature.
At The Dandelion Project, we advise local activists to think about bringing in people from outside the community, to give credibility to the ideas they wish to put forward.
To date, we have brought into our community more than 100 global innovators, largely to say what local innovators are already saying. Sure, there is credibility in external experts’ global reputations or bodies of work, but there is also the added dynamic of bypassing local and human biases.
The model works time and again, taking so much frustration out of the process of change. Community catalysts like myself are actively using this approach and now informal exchange programmes are ongoing between communities. Catalysts visit each other’s communities to reinforce their ideas and provide mutual credibility.
To succeed more easily, we are required to develop irrational solutions to irrational problems.
How can you use outside help to open doors and make change happen?
In what ways have you used this dynamic already?
I would love to hear your thoughts on this, in the comments section below.
To the wonder of the illogical.