Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Removing barriers to understanding

How do we become motivated to understand?

How do we become interested in understanding ... oh, I dunno, any idea, something, anything?

How do we become interested in learning?

Is that several questions? Perhaps. I think of them as variations on one theme.

The words "persuade" and "influence" are in that pile of Legos I dumped on the floor recently. The question, "How does persuasion work?" is one of the underlying themes of my writing here. It seems to me we often think about persuasion as an additive process. We provide facts, figures, and information. We build a case. Sometimes we try to make the process overwhelmingly additive. We blast information from a fire hose. We try to bury each other under piles of words.

This just occurred to me now, while writing this post: Sometimes persuasion seems more like a process of elimination, a process of removing barriers.

Sometimes (perhaps often?) persuasion occurs when we remove barriers to understanding.

So maybe we should ask ourselves the question this way:

How do we remove barriers to understanding?

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