Saturday, November 26, 2005

How to Convince Others

I do wish there was an easy, logical way to persuade others that crisis preparedness is worthwhile. You know ... a one-size-fits-all, three-step process guaranteed to lift the scales from the eyes of the unenlightened.

But alas ...

Common Complaint

If there is one almost-universal complaint I hear from fellow preparedness activists, it is that they are often not able to convince even those nearest and dearest to them that crisis readiness is smart.

For many sailing smoothly through life out there today, the initial, deeply embedded perspective is that only kooks and "racist survivalists" spend any time or money preparing for a disaster that might never come. It's a view that's been cultivated in the public mind by the mass media for decades now. So in spite of the obvious common sense inherent in a balanced approach to being prepped, there is a wall that needs to be breeched for some folks before they'll be able to observe the full horizon.

Indeed, how many of my friends and customers out there have mentioned that they wish they could get through to their spouse, their siblings, buddies, or coworkers, etc.?

The spouse factor alone is seemingly insurmountable for many.

I would estimate that more than half of you who are reading this blog would be hard pressed to convince your spouse or significant other to even have a look at it or at some similarly focused resource. Is that frustrating? Of course it is. In fact, I'm sure most in that boat would be satisfied with just getting a nonverbal, implied, eye-rolling "go-ahead" from their loved one to do whatever is necessary, if not a full fledged, share-the-passion, full-speed-ahead buy-in from them.

Oh, that they could stop having to sneak around, hiding their latest purchases adding to their strategic reserves and stock ... and instead be able to openly share the steadily growing peace of mind their well-considered program is building.

How-To

No, this won't work for everyone, but in my personal experience, this is your best bet. I've been involved in preparedness of various kinds, professionally as well as personally for decades, and with time, you learn that there IS a way to at least get folks to listen to what you have to say.

A few tips for anytime you are first bringing up the issue of preparedness with someone (and perhaps EVERY time you discuss it) ...

1. Lose the emotion. Fear, anger, paranoia ... those are the emotions and "danger signs" many people out there would be looking for in any "nutcase" who would approach them to talk about getting ready for disaster. Show it and the cause is already lost.

Take a calm, non-commital, intelligent tack in which you almost casually relate the view that crisis preparedness is common sense. Be dispassionate, non-threatening ... that's how you need to bring the issue forward. If there is no sign of your companion being in the least bit receptive, drop it. Maybe the next opportunity that arises will be different. Just don't make it an obvious priority in your intereactions with the person.

2. No target-lock on any one threat. This is a big problem for many. It's easy not only to inadvertently zero in on one big threat of the hour when talking about crisis preparedness, it's just as easy to allow it to become all-consuming in one's own actual approach to preparedness. When raising the issue of preparedness, be knowledgable, but not necessarily "expert." Talk about crises in general if that is appropriate, unless your partner is needing to talk over an issue that is bothering them today (i.e., perhaps the Avian Flu at the moment).

Most important, talk about solutions, not the challenges. Trying to scare someone into seeing things your way never works longer term.

3. Don't play oracle, proclaiming THE END. Want to be seen as a crank? Set a date and start telling folks that you know something ominous they don't. Throughout history, dates of doom have come and gone as have their promoters. Even if you see some risk ahead, keep it to yourself until it becomes painfully obvious to even the most obtuse.

4. Don't talk about TEOTWAWKI. See #3. "The End Of The World As We Know It" became a common acronym circa the Y2K computer-scare era. Of course, it is also widely applied to post nuclear-war exchanges, and now even to the bird flu potential. My intended points? Life goes on. And change is inevitable and continuous. To try to counter either of those axioms is to ask to be pigeon-holed into a niche where few can be taken seriously.

5. Drop the mystery about your own preparedness efforts. This is actually more of an indirect benefit to preparedness in general than usually a necessary persuasive tactic one-to-one with someone. Nonetheless, it is worth mentioning here that folks are more easily persuaded by demonstrated action over hollow words. Of course this runs counter to the tendency many have to protect access to and knowledge of their preparedness resources. But to encourage someone else to embark upon a personal campaign toward greater readiness by being more open about your own efforts, is a powerful way to go about it. Use common sense deciding when it might actually prove to be wise to take this path with someone and to what extent.

Fact is, if more folks were forthcoming about their own preparedness efforts, then the public impression that normal people don't do this would be quickly laid to rest.

6. Limit the reference points you share to sources in the "moderate mainstream." There are a lot of very "enthusiastic" parties focusing on specific, peripheral preparedness-related issues. They are off the beaten path and all have their own adherents ... and they do often contribute in their way to crisis readiness in the general population. However, before you refer preparedness prospects to a website or to a book of interest, etc., be sure you consider the kind of first impression they will likely have, given all aspects of that reference work and ALL the content and themes being projected there.

It is probably going to be most effective to carefully present the preparedness mindset to the uninitiated in a measured way, coming at least initially from recognized, respected authorities. Today, federal, state, and local governments are pushing readiness, as are mainstream media outlets. It doesn't take a trip today to http://www.snakeoilforall to start folks thinking about real-world moves they can take to mitigate the risks to their family's well-being.

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