In 1588, British troops massed against a sea invasion from Spain at Tilbury were deeply concerned that their leader Queen Elizabeth I, as a woman, would not be up to the rigors of battle. In addressing the men, she dispelled their fears pre-suasively: first acknowledging their concern by admitting a weakness, which established her honesty for whatever she said next, and then following it with a strength that demolished the weakness. “I know,” she asserted, “I have the body of a weak and feeble woman. But I have the heart of a king, and a king of England, too.”
It’s reported that so long and loud were the cheers after this pronouncement that officers had to ride among the men ordering them to restrain themselves so the queen could continue.
I like this idea of basically doing what Eminem did in 8-mile—where you preemptively mention the worst thing that was being thought and then counter or dismiss it.
It’s powerful because it mostly removes it as a weapon for your opponents.
But I actually prefer another technique, which I wrote about in The Other Half of Changing Someone’s Opinion.
I’m imagining a model where only 10% of a chance of a changed mind comes from the strength of the presented argument, with the other 90% coming from the state of the receiver.
If someone is unwilling or incapable of changing his position on a topic then it makes little difference what you say. And if he is open to change, a gentle nudge could result in a complete transition.
So I get this preemptive thing—it’s cool. But it seems to me more like a tactic than a strategy.
A strategy is to make sure you’re in a discussion and not a debate, meaning you’re both genuinely willing to change your minds.
If you’re not, what’s the purpose of the interaction?