The Impact of Incremental Persuasion
People often think of one great strategy or compelling argument as an effective means of persuasion. In actuality, persuasion of any import is rarely accomplished by a single argument. If that were the case, persuasion would look much like the diagram below, where A is the starting point and C represents the desired change:
A → C
Actually, getting from A to C usually requires at least a step B, and perhaps even multiple steps between A and B and between B and C. A more realistic view of persuasion looks something like this:
A → 1 → 2 → 3 → 4 → B → 1 → 2 → 3 → 4 → C
Most people don’t like to change things that they believe work for them. So, resistance is natural. People also face obstacles and limitations that interfere with their acceptance of even the strongest reasoning. A sure way to fail at persuasion is to underestimate the steps necessary to deal with these challenges.
While the model above is too static to capture the back-and-forth, quid-pro-quo nature of most persuasion, it does provide a guide for your planning.
Suppose your supervisor won’t listen to your concerns about project overload. It may be that A1 represents getting him to talk about the issue. A2 might entail convincing him to listen to your views, A3 allowing you to provide evidence, and A4 discussing the problems created by the status quo. Step B could be achieving his appreciation of the situation. Therefore, B1 might be gaining a willingness on his part to consider a change and B2 a discussion of how to either lighten the total load or prioritize projects to provide better focus on each one. B3 and B4 could then be specifics of the change, and C his ultimate agreement.
Granted, this is a static view of the complexity of persuasion, but it sure beats going in without a plan. Any actual persuasive effort may involve fewer steps than these -- or far more. Adaptability is usually necessary, as well as a willingness to redefine C.
In some cases, reaching B may be the most challenging part of the total effort. Once your supervisor appreciates the situation, reaching C could turn out to be a piece of cake. Perhaps the supervisor believes that discussions about workload are a form of whining. Once that perception is altered, he or she may move quickly to rectify the situation. By contrast, you may work for someone who is quite willing to listen, even agrees with you, but who sees no way around the problem. Getting to B is easy; it’s the journey to C where you’ll need to concentrate your efforts.
The next time you want to persuade someone, consider mapping out what you can reasonably obtain at each point in a discussion, or over a number of conversations. Being right or in possession of compelling evidence often is not as important to effective persuasion as recognizing what steps need to be taken along the way.
Upvote/downvote each of the videos below!
As you vote, keep in mind that we are looking for a winner with the most engaging social venture pitch - an idea you would want to invest in.
Having these financial life skills can help you navigate challenging economic environments.
- Americans are swimming in increasingly higher amounts of debt, even the upper middle class.
- For many, this burden can be alleviated by becoming familiar with some straightforward financial concepts.
- Here's some essential financial life skills needed to ensure your economic wellbeing.
Here's the first evidence to challenge the "fastest sperm" narrative.
Experts argue the jaws of an ancient European ape reveal a key human ancestor.
- The jaw bones of an 8-million-year-old ape were discovered at Nikiti, Greece, in the '90s.
- Researchers speculate it could be a previously unknown species and one of humanity's earliest evolutionary ancestors.
- These fossils may change how we view the evolution of our species.
Homo sapiens have been on earth for 200,000 years — give or take a few ten-thousand-year stretches. Much of that time is shrouded in the fog of prehistory. What we do know has been pieced together by deciphering the fossil record through the principles of evolutionary theory. Yet new discoveries contain the potential to refashion that knowledge and lead scientists to new, previously unconsidered conclusions.
A set of 8-million-year-old teeth may have done just that. Researchers recently inspected the upper and lower jaw of an ancient European ape. Their conclusions suggest that humanity's forebearers may have arisen in Europe before migrating to Africa, potentially upending a scientific consensus that has stood since Darwin's day.
Rethinking humanity's origin story
The frontispiece of Thomas Huxley's Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature (1863) sketched by natural history artist Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
As reported in New Scientist, the 8- to 9-million-year-old hominin jaw bones were found at Nikiti, northern Greece, in the '90s. Scientists originally pegged the chompers as belonging to a member of Ouranopithecus, an genus of extinct Eurasian ape.
David Begun, an anthropologist at the University of Toronto, and his team recently reexamined the jaw bones. They argue that the original identification was incorrect. Based on the fossil's hominin-like canines and premolar roots, they identify that the ape belongs to a previously unknown proto-hominin.
The researchers hypothesize that these proto-hominins were the evolutionary ancestors of another European great ape Graecopithecus, which the same team tentatively identified as an early hominin in 2017. Graecopithecus lived in south-east Europe 7.2 million years ago. If the premise is correct, these hominins would have migrated to Africa 7 million years ago, after undergoing much of their evolutionary development in Europe.
Begun points out that south-east Europe was once occupied by the ancestors of animals like the giraffe and rhino, too. "It's widely agreed that this was the found fauna of most of what we see in Africa today," he told New Scientists. "If the antelopes and giraffes could get into Africa 7 million years ago, why not the apes?"
He recently outlined this idea at a conference of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.
It's worth noting that Begun has made similar hypotheses before. Writing for the Journal of Human Evolution in 2002, Begun and Elmar Heizmann of the Natural history Museum of Stuttgart discussed a great ape fossil found in Germany that they argued could be the ancestor (broadly speaking) of all living great apes and humans.
"Found in Germany 20 years ago, this specimen is about 16.5 million years old, some 1.5 million years older than similar species from East Africa," Begun said in a statement then. "It suggests that the great ape and human lineage first appeared in Eurasia and not Africa."
Migrating out of Africa
In the Descent of Man, Charles Darwin proposed that hominins descended out of Africa. Considering the relatively few fossils available at the time, it is a testament to Darwin's astuteness that his hypothesis remains the leading theory.
Since Darwin's time, we have unearthed many more fossils and discovered new evidence in genetics. As such, our African-origin story has undergone many updates and revisions since 1871. Today, it has splintered into two theories: the "out of Africa" theory and the "multi-regional" theory.
The out of Africa theory suggests that the cradle of all humanity was Africa. Homo sapiens evolved exclusively and recently on that continent. At some point in prehistory, our ancestors migrated from Africa to Eurasia and replaced other subspecies of the genus Homo, such as Neanderthals. This is the dominant theory among scientists, and current evidence seems to support it best — though, say that in some circles and be prepared for a late-night debate that goes well past last call.
The multi-regional theory suggests that humans evolved in parallel across various regions. According to this model, the hominins Homo erectus left Africa to settle across Eurasia and (maybe) Australia. These disparate populations eventually evolved into modern humans thanks to a helping dollop of gene flow.
Of course, there are the broad strokes of very nuanced models, and we're leaving a lot of discussion out. There is, for example, a debate as to whether African Homo erectus fossils should be considered alongside Asian ones or should be labeled as a different subspecies, Homo ergaster.
Proponents of the out-of-Africa model aren't sure whether non-African humans descended from a single migration out of Africa or at least two major waves of migration followed by a lot of interbreeding.
Did we head east or south of Eden?
Not all anthropologists agree with Begun and his team's conclusions. As noted by New Scientist, it is possible that the Nikiti ape is not related to hominins at all. It may have evolved similar features independently, developing teeth to eat similar foods or chew in a similar manner as early hominins.
Ultimately, Nikiti ape alone doesn't offer enough evidence to upend the out of Africa model, which is supported by a more robust fossil record and DNA evidence. But additional evidence may be uncovered to lend further credence to Begun's hypothesis or lead us to yet unconsidered ideas about humanity's evolution.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.