September 19, 2013
& The Mayflower
What do you do when your premises, expertise or credibility are challenged
because the challenger, for whatever reason, is skeptical of your position? Most
people want to respond with a “Yes, but…” comeback. That response feels good,
but rarely works. It only causes your skeptic to dig in his heels deeper.
The fact is, you can’t change
people’s minds. Only they can change their minds. But a carefully constructed
analogy can change the way they see a situation which then leads them to the
desired shift in thinking.
What Was the Name of the
Captain of the Mayflower?
Put the politics aside in the
following story and look at this exchange as a very clever example of how one
man changed the mind of another with that technique.
In 1954, when Ben Gurion was Prime Minister, he traveled to the USA to meet with
President Eisenhower to request his assistance and support in the early and
difficult days of the State of Israel.
John Foster Dulles who was the then secretary of state confronted Ben Gurion and
challenged him as follows:
"Tell me, Mr. Prime Minister - who do you and your state represent? Does it
represent the Jews of Poland, perhaps Yemen, Romania, Morocco, Iraq, Russia or
perhaps Brazil? After 2000 years of
exile can you honestly speak about a single nation, a single culture? Can you
speak about a single heritage or perhaps a single Jewish tradition?"
Ben Gurion answered him as follows:
"Look, Mr. Secretary of State - approximately 300 years ago the Mayflower set
sail from England and on it were the first settlers who settled in what would
become the largest democratic superpower known as the United States of America.
Now, do me a favor - go out into the streets and find 10 American children and
ask them the following:
What was the name of the Captain of the Mayflower?
How long did the voyage take?
What did the people who were on the ship eat?
What were the conditions of sailing during the voyage?
I'm sure you would agree with me that there is a good chance that you won't get
a good answer to these questions.
Now in contrast - not 300 but more than 3000 years ago, the Jews left the land
I would kindly request from you Mr. Secretary that on one of your trips
around the world, try and meet 10 Jewish children in different countries. And
What was the name of the leader who took the Jews out of Egypt?
How long did it take them before they got to the land of Israel?
What did they eat during the period when they were wandering in the desert?
And what happened to the sea when they encountered it?
Once you get the answers to these questions, please carefully reconsider the
question that you have just asked me!"
Twist the Mental Kaleidoscope
Statesman, manager, marketer, tech
expert, operations executive, financial pro, salesperson, CEO--when it comes to
persuasion, help others to see your point by changing the picture in their
Identify anticipated objections and concerns from your listener
about your listener. What is his frame of reference? What are
his experiences? What can he relate to that can become the
source for your analogy?
Create your analogy.
Relate the analogy to the situation
the analogy to sink in and change the way your challenger sees
the situation. This shift makes it easy for him to change his
mind so that you can achieve your desired outcome.
Make What You Say Pay — With Metaphors.
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