Derik Whittaker

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Removing words like Convince, Convert and Persuade from our vocabulary

One of the common themes of this years KaizenConf was how to move a towards being a lean organization.  During most of the sessions and conversations that I was part I cannot tell you how often I heard words like Convince, Convert and Persuade said.  At first I had nothing against these words, but the more I thought about I know feel that we need to remove those words from our vocabulary when talking about moving a team or organization from one thing to another (in context of these conversations it is towards being lean).

Using terms like Convince and Convert has the feeling that 'I am right and you are wrong'.  Even if you are not using terms like Convince and Convert in your dialog with people, I am going to guess that you have that as your goal, or your end game. 

I am here to suggest that we as a community need to change our focus from Convincing towards Demonstrating.  By changing our angle and our position to be more neutral and soft I feel we can archive our goal of bringing change easier and with less friction.  It is like that old saying 'you can catch more fly's with honey than vinegar.

Lets take a look at the subtle differences between Convincing and Demostrating.

When we are trying to Convince someone of something many times we give off the following vibes.

  • That your way is wrong, and our is right
  • That we are better and more knowledgeable
  • That we are preaching

All of above tend to put people on the definsive and if someone is on the definsive they are less likely to be open minded and less likey to want to try to understand what it is you are trying to say.

When we are trying to demostrate something to someone we give off the following vibes.

  • Heartflet attempt to share knowledge
  • Cooperation
  • Alternative to, not a replacement for their way of doing something
  • Sincere intrest in helping them.

When you speak to someone with the above vibe, you are essentally telling them that I have an idea and I think that my idea can help you out.  If you attack it from this angle you may be surprised by the level of reception you can receive.

Remember, convincing someone is never easy, but demostrating alternatives and allowing them to make their own decision can be.

Keep up the good fight and happy demostrating.

Till next time,


Posted 11-04-2008 5:26 AM by Derik Whittaker

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Comments

Tim Barcz wrote re: Removing words like Convince, Convert and Persuade from our vocabulary
on 11-04-2008 9:50 AM

I too find that often the words we use are a cancer.  I am too quick to use the words you describe above.  Another thing that came out of the conference is developers removing themselves from the business, by referring to the workplace in the third person, ie. "The Business" which should be replaced with "Our Business".  Ultimately we're all on the same team, and our vocabulary should reflect that.

Christopher Bennage wrote re: Removing words like Convince, Convert and Persuade from our vocabulary
on 11-05-2008 8:58 AM

I had a similiar thought recently. I'm trying to change the way I present material to first communicate a problem is common to us all, and secondly demonstrate a solution that I have found.

Why do I believe in TDD? Because I have found that it solves certain problems well (e.g. designing maintainable code). However, when I have attempted to "sell" TDD it's unconvincing. Only those who already get it are are excited. Preaching to the choir.

My approach now is to begin by discussing the problems, demonstrate how I solve them, and end by saying "Oh, and some people call this TDD".

Well, at least that's what I'd like to do...

Dave Schinkel wrote re: Removing words like Convince, Convert and Persuade from our vocabulary
on 11-07-2008 9:29 AM

>>>I am here to suggest that we as a community need to change our focus from Convincing towards Demonstrating

Not all of us have the time to create a mock-up or quick example of everything we wish to move to.

DotNetKicks.com wrote Removing words like Convince, Convert and Persuade from our vocabulary
on 11-07-2008 9:42 AM

You've been kicked (a good thing) - Trackback from DotNetKicks.com

Otto Marin wrote re: Removing words like Convince, Convert and Persuade from our vocabulary
on 07-05-2009 2:51 PM

To the above two commenters:

So, let me get the straight: you believe that what you say and how you say it (and how it's perceived) is unimportant to you?

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