Wednesday, October 7, 2015

How to Read a Mind

There are two types of discussions: useful and useless. Useless ones are also known as arguments. And you can't win an argument.

But the distinction can be subtle. How do you know which is which?

Simple: Is the other party trying to understand your thought before refuting it?

Thoughts are complicated. If they weren't, there would be no need to discuss them. So you probably need some back and forth before the other party truly grasps the idea. This can take the form of questions, summarization, or other some other type of clarification.

If, however, the other party doesn't pursue that understanding but jumps directly into a rebuttal, you are now in a useless discussion. Congratulations!

But why is it useless? Your points make sense, right? In an argument, the other party has already made up their mind. Everything you say can and will be used against you.

In other words, this technique can tell you what is in the other party's mind. It can thus help you avoid wasting your time. You can't win an argument.

Of course, it goes both ways. If you find yourself refuting something without first pursing an understanding of it, you can tell that your mind is already made up.