Last activity on February 7, 2023
Coming home from college promised good food, more rest, and loud fights with Pop over politics.
It always started innocently — Pop and I just watched TV. I sagged on the old sofa. He sat in his chair by the floor lamp.
Then one of us would pick a fight. Sometimes he would say something out loud about something on the TV, as if he were talking to the TV. I knew it was aimed at me.
But he wasn’t the only cantankerous one. I’d often bring up a topic that I knew would set him off. Of course, I thought it was for his own good. I would set him straight, and update his antique ideas, so he didn’t have to wallow longer in ignorance.
The volume of our voices would rise steadily, then explode. Logical debating points gave way to personal insults until all of our steam leaked out and we fell quiet. Sometimes one of us would leave the room. Often we’d just sit in silence and stare at the TV. I don’t know about Pop, but the argument kept going in my head.
Of course, I always won the loud part, because I knew how to use words as swords, stabbing his feeble, old-man ideas with many mortal wounds. I also won the silent part, because I thought of even more brilliant lines I should have said that would certainly have left him fumbling for a reply.
Pop passed away in 2011.
If I could have another hour with him, what do you think we’d talk about? How would we treat each other?
I can’t get a do-over on what’s done. All I can do is learn, and move forward, and minimize the chance that I’ll have such a story to tell about any other family member, friend, neighbor, or co-worker.
I’m as old now as Pop was then. In many ways, I’m just like him. I’m right about everything, and I always want to win.
However, my life as a journalist, politician and pundit has led me to a radical conclusion: Winning is not the same as beating.
More importantly : you can win faster, more effectively and without damaging your relationships, if you use a few basic, easy to remember, techniques.
I’ve organized these little-used techniques into a simple system. I call it WinSome. It’s a mashup of three ideas.
1) If I’m going to have debates, I’d like to win some.
2) The purpose of debates isn’t to boost my ego, but to persuade — or win — some to my views.
3) The word winsome provides the attitude I need to accomplish the two previous ideas.
WinSome is a powerful technology that can enrich your daily life, your relationships, your health, and even your wallet.
Once you learn WinSome, you’ll use it every day — eventually without even thinking about it. It’s that easy.
When you do so, you’ll not only have stronger relationships with your loved ones, and more persuasive power (face-to-face and online), you’ll grow more effective at work, Recognition and career advancement will follow. As if that were not enough, the reduction in stress you get from the Winsome system will improve your health.
Knowing what I now know, I’d give all I have just to spend another 60 minutes with Pop. I’d sell my car, cash in my 401(k), and travel to the top of Everest or to the bottom of Challenger Deep for just a few moments with him.
I’d apologize for my arrogance, praise him for his selfless sacrifice — both in World War II, in decades of youth sports coaching, and in bringing up four grandsons. I’d do whatever I could to demonstrate my respect, admiration and love, for this man who meant so much to me.
What would you pay to get another chance with a loved one who has passed? Would you part with $100, or a $1,000, with $10,000 or $100,000? Unfortunately, that opportunity is not for sale.
The best that you and I can do is look around and see who’s still here, then do what we can to ensure you have only fond memories and no regrets when they die…and leave them with happy memories of you when your days come to an end.
That is the promise in these pages…the mission of this method, and a greater purpose worthy of your last full measure of devotion.
But wait a minute! What does all this mushy memories stuff have to with political persuasion?
I often joke that I’d rather have friends than opinions.
Truth be told: I want both.
With the WinSome Persuasion Plan you can have both.
What’s more, you can have loved ones who share your opinions. This makes life better for you, for them, for our great country, and for the world.
There’s nothing more frustrating than having a great idea that repeatedly gets rejected. You can’t understand why people don’t embrace that which you have found to be sweet and healthy. You naturally wonder about their intellectual abilities, their sanity, and their motives.
This describes much of what passes for public (if not civil) dialogue. The never-ending divisive debate fosters, at best, team spirit, at worst, a kind of toxic atmosphere that stymies the highest aspirations of all of us.
When was the last time you saw, heard or read of an encounter between two people taking opposing positions that ended with either side agreeing to reconsider her position based on the new information revealed in the discussion?
It never happens.
So why do we continue to watch (and participate in) such arguments? For the same reason we watch a UFC fight, or a football game. We love the competition, and the more brutal it is, the more it gets our adrenaline going. But a kick-boxing cage-match has no higher aspiration. Its contestants are not trying to create a more just society, with equal opportunity for all, and an atmosphere in which each can pursue happiness in a way that also benefits others.
May I suggest that you have such aspirations?
If you have not experienced the frustration of failing to “win” the argument, then I would suggest that you’re in it for the adrenaline, and don’t care whether the world ever adopts your viewpoint. In fact, you might be disappointed if you won — because the fight would be over. But most people who engage in vigorous public debate really do care, they just have no models for how to conduct these conversations in a way that actually wins. They may try to emulate their media heroes, only to discover that what entertains on radio or video, doesn’t succeed one-to-one.
WinSome is an approach to engaging people in the way most likely to gain a hearing for your ideas, so that those ideas have an opportunity to prevail and, ultimately, to make life better for the persuaded one, and for society. Its minimum goal is to bring about friendships where grace and respect rule. Its ultimate aspiration is to transform society, allowing each of us to live the freedom we cherish, and to pursue happiness in a way that also blesses others.
In short, the reason WinSome works is that it sets a progressive hierarchy of achievable goals, and maps a path to them. At any point along that path, any progress represents a win. This contrasts with the typical debate-defeat-destroy strategy which has only two possible outcomes — win or lose the argument. Neither outcome is typically acknowledged by the other party.
To adopt the WinSome strategy requires a change of heart and mind. It means seeing ideological opponents not as “the enemy,” but as people who have not yet seen the light. It means putting more value on people than on opinions. It calls for overlooking an offense to embrace the big picture. And, perhaps most difficult, it requires humility and a willingness to listen.
You may consider all of this simply as the courtesy and civility with which decent people conduct their lives, regardless of the political (or other) objective. Or you may simply see this strategy instrumentally, as a tool for getting your way. I would respectfully suggest that its both, and more. Ultimately, I believe my values and ideas about governance and society are the ones the most able to bring good life to the most people. In addition, I believe, as grandpa used to say, you attract more with honey than with vinegar.
WinSome means much more than merely that you win some arguments. It means you win some friends by being winsome.
Winsome: attractive or appealing in appearance or character.
Your attractive demeanor makes room for your ideas, and invites others to discover why you’re so happy. Done well, it means you’re never forcing your ideas on another, but rather, inviting them to enjoy what has delighted you.