Learning For Life

The Fact Is ... Don't Use Facts

When we first talked about how to change other people's minds in To Change Minds … Change Your Approach?, Red was shocked to learn that Black, her highly pragmatic (albeit extremely sarcastic) sister, who often thinks of disagreements as sport, actually suggested using approaches that seemed more in keeping with Red's "style" as a warm and fuzzy mom, who goes out of her way to avoid conflict.

Of course, that led to us talking (initially, Black thought Red just wanted to bask in the light of being right, but quickly realized that the straight-A student wanted to better understand the approach), and we ultimately created the following list because we both love lists.

We don't think this is a definitive list, but we agree that you can't go wrong using any/all of the following approaches or (as Black would say) strategies … whether in an attempt to change someone's mind or only to better understand their position.

  1. R-E-S-P-E-C-T
    Aretha Franklin said it best … as we strongly believe respect should permeate everything we do. Everyday. Unfortunately, it seems to have gotten lost somewhere. It's ok to disagree with someone, but if we remember to treat them with respect, we'll all be less defensive – and more open to learning what we each think (and why).
  2. See Another Side
    It's human nature to trust people who are like us or who see things the same way we do, and it can be difficult to understand different perspectives. Too bad Aretha didn't sing E-M-P-A-T-H-Y, but there's a reason for the expressions, "Don't judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes" or "There are two sides to every story" (although Black will argue there are at least three, and often more). Want the best way to understand another person's perspective or opinion? Ask them. And then listen.
  3. Seek Common Ground
    Have you ever been had a conversation with someone new and found you had something in common? Or, have you ever been arguing with someone and suddenly find that you agree on something? If so, you'll know the feeling of connectivity and comfort (sometimes satisfaction or even amazement) that comes from finding common ground. And even if it's something small, that's often enough to build on. So, look for it.
  4. Remember, You're Not In A Courtroom
    So often, when trying to change someone's mind, the tendency is to present your case as if you're in a court of law defending your position while shooting down the opposing side. Our mom takes that to the extreme, to the point that Black used to start conversations with her by saying, "You are right, I am wrong, what is the topic?" The problem is that rather than starting from a place where you might be able to meet in the middle, it immediately puts each side in an extreme position. And all we can say is … good luck with that.
  5. Leave A Way Out
    Have you ever been in a situation where you were certain you were right, and then during the course of conversation, realize that you might not have considered all the issues, or you may have been missing an important detail? Some people are better at dealing with that (Black will merely say, "Fair enough"), while others will hold their ground because they're afraid they'll look stupid or weak if they "give in". If you're trying to change someone's mind, you need to make sure there's a graceful way for that to happen.
  6. Emotion Overrules Facts
    In fact (pun intended), changing someone's mind is one of the rare times when Black believes that Red's warm-and-fuzzy approach is more conducive to success than her own Vulcan-like approach. People make decisions emotionally and then evaluate the evidence. And often, once a decision's made, people may resist believing "opposing" evidence or even "interpret" the facts so that it supports their decision.
  7. Start With A Story
    We're a story-telling society. We remember stories long after we've forgotten facts and figures. And we remember what we've experienced more than something we have read or heard. It's the power of stories. So, we end our list with an idea of where to start the conversation if you want to change someone's mind. Tell a story, give an example, conjure up a memory of a past experience … anything that will make the topic relatable, and provide an emotional foundation on which you can build.

WARNING: Although this post was presented as ways to approach changing someone's mind … keep in mind it is a two-way street … and you may, ironically, find yourself changing your mind.

People have told us they're using our sisterly banter to start conversations with others (family, friends, and even in classrooms), so Black created "Conversation Starters".

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I’ll admit that I hate technology and prefer to keep my ostrich head in the sand. But although I’ve slowly gotten better and try not to immediately default into freakout mode, all this talk about Artificial Intelligence (AI) not only confuses me but scares me. It reminds me of the 1968 movie “2001 A Space Odyssey,” the computer named HAL, and the potential of machines to harm vs. help us. (Yes, I’m being a bit dramatic, but then again, maybe not …)

Black and I have talked about how it can be used to help solve some of the world’s most challenging problems, like cancer, but wherever there’s opportunity for good, there can also be bad actors. And it’s all happening so incredibly fast as it seems like there’s some new development almost daily, and I don’t want to have to understand it, let alone learn how to use it.

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It is already impacting society, and although many people play with it like a toy, early adopters see its value as a powerful tool – for good and evil. It does not help that the “Godfather of AI”, as well as one of the creators of ChatGPT (a leading AI system where users can pose questions), are warning us of the potential dangers of the technology and the need to slow things down and have guardrails in place.

It is critical to remember that denial does not change reality.

AI will become increasingly important for businesses that want to stay competitive and will dramatically impact the labor market by automating some tasks. But, it will mean critical thinking skills will be more important than ever. And, as AI becomes more integrated into our personal lives, it will be essential for us to understand the basics – both what it can and cannot do.


  • What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)? How does AI “learn” (get its information)?
  • Does AI scare or excite you? Why?
  • What are the benefits of AI? What are the challenges or risks associated with AI?
  • Do you think AI will impact you personally and/or professionally? If so, how do you plan to be prepared?

People have told us they're using our sisterly banter to start conversations with others (family, friends, and even in classrooms), so Black created "Conversation Starters".

Sometimes it takes a celebration to get us to stop and think about something. Hopefully, Celebrate Diversity Month will get all of us to think about diversity differently. Especially since too often people focus on differences and who’s “better” instead of realizing that different is … merely different.

Plus, as Black points out below, wouldn’t it be boring if there were only two flavors of ice cream?

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Growing up on Long Island in a Jewish home, I didn’t think twice about my best friend (who’s still a close friend) being Italian, although we did have different cultural and religious beliefs. And although we lived close to New York City, it wasn’t until I went to college in North Carolina that I met a Black person (and a Southerner, no less). She and I quickly became good friends and laughed at the fact we had the same last name, but that’s where the similarities ended. Yet, I had never really thought about diversity, or to be honest, even heard of the term, until you had us working on Career & Technology Education (CTE) curriculum, and we did a soft skills worksheet on it. That’s when I discovered that “diversity” was actually a “thing”, although lately, it seems to have become a political topic .

But once I was aware of it, I realized how much I learned from being friends with people who have different perspectives and experiences than I do. Of course, having a sister who at times seems more like a Vulcan, likes to push me outside my comfort zone, and makes me look at things from different viewpoints, has made me a better person – both in terms of newfound knowledge as well as a greater appreciation for how and why others may see things differently .

Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

Vulcan or otherwise, there were things to learn from Spock, which highlights the importance of diversity. In the broadest context, diversity introduces us to unique experiences and perspectives. In the workplace, it is often referred to as Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI), but I will stick with diversity (for now), which includes not only race, sex, and age, but also gender and sexual orientation, disabilities, religious beliefs, and socioeconomic status, and I am guessing there are other differentiators. I think it is as simple as accepting that not everyone is alike. (How boring would that be? It would be like only having vanilla and chocolate ice cream.) And recognizing that differences are not right or wrong; they are differences.

From a business perspective, the more you look at things from different angles and perspectives, the more fully (and more creatively) you will see things, which in turn, helps you better understand and provide value to your target market.

I know I said I would not get into equity and inclusion, but I love this quote from Vema Myers, “Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance.”


  • Define diversity. What does diversity mean to you? What are its challenges and benefits?
  • The concept of diversity in the workplace encompasses acceptance and respect. But that also applies to your personal life. How can your actions and behavior help or hinder the situation?
  • Are your friends and workplace associates a diverse group of people? If so, what have you learned from them? If not, why not? And would you be willing to proactively get to know people outside your "usual” circle?
  • Do you think “diversity” is seen differently by different generations? Why?

It’s been two years since my daughter went through the college selection process. Looking back at the checklist (below) that I created when she was making this life-changing decision (yes, comments like that make it even more stressful, but it’s true), I can see how each step helped her make the best choice for herself. I admit it was difficult for me to let her decide for herself, especially as I didn’t initially agree with her choice, but then I realized I was including my aspirations and wishes into the equation. (Parents, be aware of this tendency!) Since then, I’ve seen her use the process for other college-related decisions, and I’m confident she’ll apply it to other life decisions. My only regret? No one taught me this when I was her age ...

So, the college applications, including financial aid, are done. And even though my daughter understood what it would entail, until you're actually in the midst of it, you don't appreciate it's a lot of hard work. And stress.

Now the difficult part … waiting. Wondering which of the schools will accept you. Hoping that you'll have options, including at least one on your "wish list". Well, before you know it, you'll hear back and will be faced with having to make a decision. One that may feel like the biggest decision of your life, so hopefully, these five steps will help …

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