The Reverse

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(From the Persuasion Power Point section in Volume 18, No. 19 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Tired of long, drawn-out arguments about government? Worn out from explaining why government fails and makes things worse?

What if you could convince your listener to persuade himself about libertarianism? What if you could persuade him to marshal compelling and convincing evidence and arguments that would change his mind about libertarianism?

Persuade himself? How?

The Reverse.

Instead of telling him what’s right with liberty and wrong with government, ask him.

“What’s one thing that government does now that you think it definitely should not do?”

Or: “What’s one activity that government engages in that it should stop doing?”

Or: “What’s one government program that’s a dismal failure or a waste of money that government ought to shut down?”

Then ask, “Why?”

After he tells you why, ask him to tell you more. Ask him to elaborate and expand. To tell you about the consequences of the bad program. To give you examples.

Then play Devil’s Advocate. Ask him how he would respond to possible objections.

“Suppose someone said X, how would you answer that objection?”

“Suppose someone said Y, how would you answer that objection?”

He will argue himself into a libertarian position. And he will give you the evidence and arguments that are most convincing to him.

The Reverse lets your listener pick the part of government that he’s most opposed to, do your arguing for you, and in the process intensify his opposition.

How and why does it work?

  1. It begins with what your listener already believes. It respects his beliefs and values.
  2. It creates rapport. Agreement. You both agree that government should abandon this activity or program.
  3. As Pascal wrote, “We are usually convinced more easily by reasons we have found ourselves than by those which have occurred to others.”
  4. As Win Wenger writes in The Einstein Factor: “The sheer act of expressing our thoughts on some subject causes us to learn more about that subject, even when no new information has been provided from without.”

Why does The Reverse work?

To truly learn a subject, teach it.

To help our listeners learn, we must ask them to teach.

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online Archives by Michael Cloud Comments are off
About the author: Michael Cloud

Michael Cloud is President and Co-founder of the Center For Small Government. He also co-founded the Massachusetts End the Income Tax ballot initiatives with Carla Howell, serving as spokesperson, primary fund-raiser and Communications Director. In 2002, Cloud ran for US Senate against 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, winning 19% of the vote — the highest vote for a Libertarian US Senate candidate ever. He has been politically active since 1976 and has raised over $8 million for small government candidates, projects, and initiatives. He is also a speechwriter and the Master of libertarian communication. He writes the Persuasion Power Points column for over 70,000 readers of the Advocates for Self-Government Liberator Online and is author of the books Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion and Unlocking More Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion. Cloud is also the co-author of Small Government News, an email newsletter that is published approximately every two weeks; more often around elections.