Contradict Yourself

This past week, I ran across the below quote from Marcel Duchamp. I love it:

“I have forced myself to contradict myself in order to avoid conforming to my own taste.”  

Why do I love it? I love it because it gets to the heart of what I speak to clients about daily—that in order to persuade people you need to demonstrate that you understand their objections. You need to be ready – and willing– to be contradicted.

Let me give you an example:

On Monday I was speaking with a client who has been asked to be a brand ambassador. As we worked on formulating his stories, I continually raised possible objections/contradictions…. “Aren’t you telling me to apply the product X way so I will use more of it and have to buy it again soon?” “You’re selling it to me X way so I will feel insecure if I don’t buy two!” etc.

These contradictions/objections forced him to tighten his story—they prepared him to speak to his customers’ concerns.

I would ask you to do the same kind of ‘opposition prep’ any time you prepare to persuade someone: to think not only about what contradictions/objections you might encounter but why you might be encountering them….Are there aspects of others’ time or money you haven’t considered? Are there underlying insecurities to be acknowledged?  Etc.

Having done that—don’t gloss over what you discover. Genuinely, as Mr. Duchamp says, try to ‘conform to their taste.’

Operating in this way will increase your understanding of them, amplifying and enhancing your ability to speak to—and potentially defuse— their contradictions, objections and concerns.

Frances Cole Jones