Many years ago I learned an interesting principle of communication theory. The principle describes a dynamic exchange between view of other and view of beliefs. It states that if you agree with a belief that another person considers to be good (“G”), then that person will think more highly of you but then think less of “G”. Likewise, if a person respects you but you support a belief that they think is bad (“B) then they will both lose some respect for you and their opinion of “B” will improve. In other words, there is a trade-off. If the words are confusing, perhaps my diagram above will help (click to enlarge). Most people understand how our opinion of others change, but many don’t understand how our own beliefs change.
As way of example: after reading my post on circumcision (n=91), this is how readers’ views changed toward both me and the issue:
Readers View of Circumcision
Reader’s View of Me
Part of the purpose of my circumcision post was to illustrate this person-belief dynamic. I was trying to stir-up meta-conversations more than I cared about circumcision.
Questions to readers:
- This principle is reflexive and probably on some levels almost impossible to escape. Changes happen that you are not even aware of and may deny. Do you agree?
- Can you give us a fun illustration of this principle in your life?