Persuasion Tip: Don’t Prove Their Story True

Everyone has a story in their head about you and your group. Understand what that story is. If it’s wrong, don’t give them proof that it’s right.

For instance, here’s the story some people tell themselves about child sponsorship organizations: These charites manipulate people into making an emotional decision to give. Your money is making somebody rich and not actually helping the poor.

I know this story is in a lot of heads because I listen, in city after city, year after year, to the skeptics.

When I’m speaking for Compassion International, I don’t show pictures of kids with distended bellies covered in flies. I focus on progress, not problems. Sure, the argument to sponsor a child is going to be emotional, but I make sure it’s also biblical and logical. (And I don’t wear expensive clothes while making it. Or ever.)

I don’t prove the story true.

Shaun Groves speaking
photo credit: Eric Brown


Democratic strategists have not listened to America well. Before the election results rolled in, I told a Democrat friend that it was a mistake for Hillary Clinton to lean so heavily upon celebrity supporters from Hollywood and New York in the last days of her campaign. Why? Because it supports a common negative story told about the Democratic party.

The story goes like this: “Progressives” and their policies are destroying the moral fabric of America. They are opposed to traditional values.

It doesn’t matter if that’s a true story or not – I’m not debating that here. What matters is that many people believe it’s true. Those people are scared. So it was foolish, at a time when so many undecided voters were deciding, to publicly link arms with celebrity after celebrity.

It provided evidence that the story about “progressives” just might be true.

Shaun Groves speaking
photo credit: Gresham Groves


Now, there’s also a story about Mr. Trump and his supporters, isn’t there? That story goes like this: “They” are racists, misogynists, and xenophobes. Or at the very least, they’re not bothered enough by these characteristics in their candidate, party, and country.

It doesn’t matter if this is a true story – I’m not debating that here. What matters is that many people believe it’s true. Those people are scared.
So it’s foolish (and immoral) when Trump or his supporters – no matter how few – behave like misogynists, racists, and xenophobes or do not speak against those who do.

It provides evidence that the story about them just might be true.

shaun groves speaking
photo credit: David Greco


Lastly, there’s a story about Christians. It goes like this: They’re not different from anyone else. They’re not more fearless, humble, generous, wise, selfless, gracious, kind, loving, or reasonable than the rest of us…and they may be worse.

Don’t be foolish. Don’t provide evidence that the story about us is true. Prove them wrong.