The specific yes and the meandering no

When a change arrives, some people embrace it. And because it’s new, they have to be specific about why. They can talk clearly about the benefits it offers and why they feel drawn to the change it can produce.

But many people don’t embrace the change. And more often than not, their objections are diffuse. They change their story over time, sometimes within the same conversation. When one objection is overcome, they switch to another one. They embrace mutually exclusive arguments and generally appear vague in their discomfort.

That’s because the people who say yes are seeing and embracing what’s possible.

There are definitely specific nos as well. People who have considered the details and implications of a new technology or cultural shift and then declined to use it.

But that’s not a meandering no.

While some people reject a new idea simply because it doesn’t work for them, often the people who are saying no are afraid. They’re afraid of what change may bring, and they’re not sure they trust the innovation and the system enough to go forward. But we’ve been conditioned to avoid saying, “I’m afraid,” so if we’re uninformed and afraid, we make up objections instead. And even add angry bravado to our objections, simply as a way of hiding what’s really going on.

A meandering no doesn’t turn into a yes because someone with a good idea listened very carefully to every spoken objection and rationally and clearly countered it. Because the objections aren’t real, and the naysayer isn’t listening very hard to the responses.

Instead, the culture changes when a combination of two things happens:

  1. Lived experiences help people actually learn the truth about what they’ve been resisting.
  2. The culture shifts and now it’s scarier to stay still than it is to join in with what is clearly working.

The last fifty years of technology adoption show that this happens every single time a shift spreads across the culture. Every time.

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