In the heat of battle, one should study what his opponent cares most about. The knowledge and understanding of your opponent’s thoughts can be an overwhelming advantage for your cause. The benefits of knowing what others care about however, are not limited to the realm of battle. Knowing what people are passionate about can aid you in your day-to-day world as well.
When you know what somebody’s soft points are, you can compliment, partake in meaningful dialogue, and comfort them. These soft points are things things that are personal to them. Letting someone know about the things you care about puts you in a vulnerable state. For example, say you maintain a website which brings in beer change as a hobby. Telling coworkers about this tiny business you run on the side selling advertising space, will empower them power to damage your reputation at your employer’s workplace. Should they see you going on your site to check up on it, they can accuse you of spending company time for business outside of work – should their political direction shift against your favor.
This article does not propagate the idea of utilizing knowledge of what the people around you care most about in life to hurt them. The information below is being presented as a tool that can mend relationships, or destroy them.
We Care Most About What We Defend
To know what others hold dear to heart, spending time with them is a precursor. As you partake in dialogue, opinions will be shared. We commonly express opinions on a variety of things when we casually speak with others. We attack certain notions and defend others. The general rule in figuring out concepts, ideas, events, and things others hold interest in, is to follow their defenses. People defend things they care about. You can tell a lot about a person’s core beliefs by connecting the dots of the their attempts to defend elements within their dialogue. Reciting the connections between every statement made in defense will paint a surprisingly clear picture.
The act of defending something comes in many forms. There are explicit defensive statements which people utter, such as: “My son’s teacher graded his paper unfairly, he worked all weekend on it and even I checked the damn thing over!” Other defenses can be more implicit: “Julie raises a good point about us needing to meet more often as a group, she does live closer to school however, making it easier for her to get here.” In the last example, the defending of the frequency of meeting as a group is driven by the notion of school being too far from the speaker’s home. You can deduce therefore, that the speaker cares about distance traveled and time spent traveling that distance. If you wanted to improve your relationship with this person, you’d ensure to keep that preference of theirs in mind when asking to meet in person.
The reason seems to be, people defend the things they care about because they’re too smart to promote them. People do not want to be obvious in revealing all their opinions and desires to the general public. They do not explicitly promote their beliefs in order to not receive explicit rebuttals from those who listen. However, people tend to fall into the trap of defending an attack against something that they care about.
Give people a chance to defend their opinions and stances. Cycle through the potential list of topics you anticipate your audience to care about and play the devil’s advocate while speaking about some of them. You will entice them to give you small hints of which way they lean through their subtle defensive statements. You’ll be surprised to notice just how many things people are set on defending in casual conversation.