Let’s face it, we’ve been raised with the idea that “more” is better, and if you really want to see this concept play out in all its glory, watch someone try to persuade another. What takes place is fairly predictable. I’m a huge fan of questions, but at some point in the discussion the conversation will shift, and it will be your turn to make your case. Maybe the case you’ll be making is why your product is the perfect solution for a potential client. Maybe the case you’ll be making is why you are the perfect person to fill a particular job. Maybe the case you’ll be making is why the movie or restaurant you are suggesting is the perfect fit for your evening.
So, how do you make your case? If you’re like most you can’t wait to provide whomever you are persuading a powerful reason that will make your case! But then something happens. A thought emerges: If one powerful reason is good, two is even better. Why stop at two? Three solid reasons must be better, and four will knock the cover off this conversation! And therein lies the problem.
For example, think about a time when you were making a point with your children. As a parent you sat down after dinner and told your child he or she was not acting in a responsible manner because homework was not being turned in on time. A note from the teacher turned this into a pretty cut and dry conversation… but you couldn’t leave it alone. You were on a roll and so to strengthen your case about responsibility you decided to throw in, “you’re not practicing your trumpet, you’re not putting your things away, and you’re not completing your chores.” “More” might seem better until you hear; “I just finished washing the dishes two hour ago!” As you sputter along with a nervous, “Uh, well, you see, that’s not really what we were talking about…” do you still think “more” is better?
We are drawn to the idea that ‘more” is better, when the reality is “more” is anything but better. For instance:
- “More” can actually dilute your own argument. Remember, there is usually a very compelling case that you are putting forth. “More” reasons to support your original argument really means “less important reasons” and those less important reasons could very well be the undoing of your original argument.
- “More” can actually make you vulnerable to your own argument. As you pile less important ideas into the case you are making, it’s not uncommon to wind up with an idea that’s not only not important to you, it’s not important to the person you are talking to. Want to witness an awkward moment? Watch someone who just brought up a reason to support an idea, be challenged on that particular unimportant point, then work to un-bring it up trapped by his or her own words.
- “More” can actually reduce your credibility. We live in an environment that covets quick communication. The longer it takes to prove a point, the more suspect that point becomes, and “more” is not your friend here.
Once again it becomes a case of instinct versus logic. Instinctively it feels right on many levels to provide as many reasons as possible to win an argument, prove a point, or make a case. “More” may feel better, but the problem is, it just isn’t logical. That “more” you’ve been so proud to stuff into your argument may ultimately be the cause of your undoing. When you let logic rule the day you’ll find that your most compelling argument is far easier to state and defend, then a series of less important clutter.