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".

Red lives in an extremely diverse community (very different from the community we grew up in), and over the past few years, there’s been an increase in hate crimes and general “nastiness” directed toward people who are “different”. So, in honor of Celebrate Diversity Month, we’re rerunning this Conversation Starter in which Red remembers the first time she met a Black person, and Black … well, Black talks about Dr. Spock?!

red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

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?

Design by Sawyer Pennington

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”.

red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

I’m really looking forward to Thanksgiving this year, especially since last year was the first since Mom passed away, and the dining room table seemed incomplete. Which may partially explain why we ended up sitting around the kitchen table and island instead. And that was wonderful – so relaxed, easy, and fun – but I still couldn’t help but think of her not being with us. It’s funny because, over the years, even as life changed, such as the girls growing up and going off to college, I’ve always taken for granted that Thanksgiving would somehow always remain the same, cooking the same dishes, with all the preparation beginning days in advance.

So, I'm not sure that I truly stopped and appreciated each Thanksgiving Day as I was so focused on everything I needed to get done. This year, though, I plan to take a moment to stop and think about some of the things I'm thankful for, and to start appreciating the day itself. To try to "be present", so to speak, in the present.

Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

I know that Thanksgiving is about giving thanks, but what you just described is gratitude. Gratitude is "deeper" than thankfulness, and the best way I can describe it is … think about when you might write a thank you note – someone gives you something or does something for you. It is a fleeting event. Now think about if you were to write someone a note or letter of appreciation.

You have repeatedly told me that mere mortals often need reminders, so what if this Thanksgiving you start a "gratitude habit"? Make a daily appointment with yourself to find a few quiet moments and write down at least one thing for which you are grateful. It can be as simple as sunlight on your face or the crunch of an apple. You are probably rolling your eyes right now, but it will only take a few minutes and can change your life. Or, at least, how you look at it.


  • If you look back, what or who would you appreciate (or appreciate more) that you didn’t at the time?
  • If you begin to appreciate the value of appreciation (pun intended), what might you want to be mindful of going forward?
  • Do you think a "gratitude habit" might be useful? Would you be willing to "test-drive" (Black's words) one for a month and see if your opinion changes? Explain your answers.

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".

No one likes to feel out of control, unprepared, and scared. But as Red will tell you, life can change in an instant (whether it’s a crisis impacting many or one that seems very personal). She’ll also tell you that when everything seems so negative, it’s difficult to have a positive mindset (or even a non-emotional perspective) …

Red's HeadRed assets.rebelmouse.io

In some ways, it seems like decades ago that my husband got fired, in other ways it seems like yesterday. I felt then so many of the same emotions that people are going through today due to the coronavirus. I was so scared. And unprepared. At the time, I thought he'd work for the company where he had been for years until he retired, and by then we'd have a second home and would live happily ever after. I never thought anything would change that plan. Everything was perfect, until my life, literally overnight, became a living nightmare.

Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

Yes, and as I told you at the time … you needed to calm down. I said that a lot. Still do. Anyway, I remember telling you to take a deep breath … and that you would get through it. And, you did. Although you constantly questioned whether you had the ability to do so.

  • Your life can change in an instant. Can you be prepared? How can you plan for the unknown?
  • What are other unplanned life events?