If you read last week’s article, Think More, Feel Less, you would wonder why this week’s has this title. We talked about how you want to be more in the zone of leading with your head rather than leading with your heart. But, you see, you don’t want to be there all the time. You’d risk becoming a boring, factual jerk that nobody wants to spend much time in conversation with.
Remember our conversation scenarios from last week? Okay let’s do one now. So imagine if you and your friend were in an argument about which mountain is taller; Mount Meru or Mount Elgon. Your friend says Elgon is taller, you say Meru is. He pushes his narrative, you push your fact. The conversation does not go on for long before you whip out your phone, go on Google, and present the facts to him. Bam! Mount Meru is 4,565m and Mount Elgon is 4,321m. The conversation is over. There’s really nothing more to argue about. And you guys move on to the next topic or more likely you disperse with him being resentful because, typically, when you win an argument, you usually lose a friend.
Now imagine if the conversation was a little different. This time, instead of arguing which mountain was taller; Meru or Elgon, your argument is, which mountain is more beautiful of the two? Now this is more subjective than it is objective. Beauty, they say, is in the eye of the beholder. What is beautiful to you may not necessarily be beautiful to me. So you and your friend take opposing sides. He says Elgon is more beautiful, you say Meru is. You guys go on and on and on without reaching a conclusion. You whip out your phone, Google it, and all that come up are different people’s opinions about which is more beautiful. So you bring up different points to try to convince your friend why you think Meru is more beautiful than Elgon. He, in turn, brings up points to try to convince you why he thinks Elgon is more beautiful than Meru. Your argument ends after many hours, with no conclusion, yet you both seemed to have enjoyed talking about how you feel about beauty. It was an engaging exchange that wasn’t cut short with a presentation of facts to silence your feelings. No winner, no loser and you both get to remain friends!
The first conversation was about facts – the actual height of the mountains. The second conversation was about feelings – the perceived beauty of the mountains. The factual conversation was abruptly ended with the presentation of facts and, of course, left one party feeling stupid. The feelings conversation went on and on with no conclusive end, and left both parties feeling like they had expressed themselves and even possibly exchanged ideas with each other. For the sake of getting along with people – because we do need people in our lives in order to be healthy – we should not be caught up in engaging in only factual conversations. We are to discuss other things where we can express our feelings and opinions to each other and learn how not to force ours on others, as there’s no factual data to back us up.
I’ve previously mentioned how I like to listen to Ben Shapiro. He’s the guy with the slogan, “facts don’t care about your feelings”. When he gets into arguments, he presents facts that end up shutting his opponents up and videos of those inevitably emerge online, under the titles, “Ben Shapiro Destroys…”
These ‘Destroys’ videos show people looking stupid at the end of arguments, when they realize that Ben has more facts to support his arguments than they ever thought to gather, before presenting theirs. It’s probably okay for his line of work and he probably has healthy relationships with people outside of that line of work. But if we ran our lives that way – where we shut people up with facts that don’t care about their feelings – we’ll end up losing a lot of friends and living alone with our facts.
So does that mean we should totally ignore the facts so as to be mindful of others’ feelings? Does that mean that we should lead with our hearts more, instead of with our heads? That’s not the takeaway today.
The takeaway, instead, is that we should find a balance between head and heart; between facts and feelings. And that balance is Truth. Consider the truth behind every situation. If someone brings up an issue or argument with you, they do so because they feel strongly about that subject. So, first acknowledge that strong feeling because it’s the truth. Then address it. Find out why they feel that way. Don’t just blankly say their feelings don’t matter because the facts don’t support them. No, start with addressing their feelings. “I understand why you feel that way. It’s because you grew up in a single-parent home, but the fact is that majority of mass murders are committed by men who grew up in single-parent homes. It doesn’t make you a mass murderer. You are different. But if you look at the stats you can easily see that there’s a problem with not having fathers around while growing up, for most people.”
You should never shy away from the facts; you must balance it with feelings though. I would say lead with feelings. Empathize first then present the facts to counter the point or argument. That way you don’t lose friends while winning an argument. In fact, it may even seem as though you didn’t win that argument, you just enlightened someone on something they had failed to see for a long time. You have won them over to your way of thinking, and that is way superior to merely winning an argument. This happened because you presented the truth. The truth on both sides. The truth about his feelings and the truth about the argument. It was the truth that helped you navigate the golden path; the balance between facts and feelings.
Facts are preferable to feelings. They make for better planning and quicker outcomes. But they don’t always trump feelings. We deal with human beings everyday and, guess what? We need those human beings too. They have feelings and most of them lead themselves with their feelings. Having those feelings bruised would do less to encourage them to see things from the bruiser’s point of view. And this can make for poor planning and slower outcomes. There has to be a balance, where we acknowledge other people’s feelings while convincing them of the facts in the most loving way. The truth is, we may just have to lead ourselves with our heads and lead others with our hearts, if we are to toe that fine line of balance between facts and feelings.