This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.


← Anecdote vs. fact

QuestioningKat's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by QuestioningKat

This is an interesting question. I recall hearing a comment somewhere mentioning that people will not listen to your advice unless they first know that you care. This makes sense to me. People want to feel acknowledged and that you are listening to them as a person. Spew off cold and impersonal facts and you have created a wall of separation. You are on one side playing the expert and they are on the other side as the inferior.

People prefer to talk WITH you rather than be talked AT. When anecdotal evidence or a story is told the person is connecting with you at an equal level because you are sharing your life's story or experience. Sharing anecdotal evidence builds trust. In some situations, the experience could be personal or emotional and the listener recognizes that the storyteller risked being vulnerable by telling what they feel is true or deeply felt. This temporarily puts the listener in the role of caretaker or superior. The listener has control over the information and could belittle the storyteller, but most will empathize and be respectful.

Remember when people were planted on messages boards and then they would share some testimonial about a product? I think advertisers were onto something. People prefer friends over teachers or an authority figure.

I think listening to facts over anecdotal evidence may also have something to do with the person being highly regarded or considered as an authority by the listener. Someone low on the totem pole may have a great idea or information and it will be overlooked, but give that same idea and info to someone more dominant or respected and people will listen. I have had this happen numerous times. I distinctly recall a couple of times I commented on something and five minutes later someone in authority reiterated what I said with a little more pizzazz and everyone suddenly listened.

Tue, 20 Sep 2011 23:37:07 UTC | #873359