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Five Strategies to Influence Our Thinking

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Every day in many ways people try to influence our thinking. Here are five brief examples of how people try to get us to comply with their wishes through the arguments that they make. Critical thought about these statements can help avoid poor decisions.

1. If your organization does not achieve ISO Certification, you will certainly go out of business within a few years.

This is an Appeal to Indirect Consequences. There is a big jump between not getting certified and going out of business. There is no direct and unavoidable connection between the two.

2. We used Sparks Mfg as a supplier once and they did an awful job. We should never buy from them again.

This is a Hasty Generalization. The only support for the statement is the speaker’s single experience. Considering the number of shipments any organization makes, there is obviously insufficient information for such a generalization. Sparks may of course be a terrible organization, we just don’t have sufficient information for making any decision one way or another.

3. Everyone seems to support the changes to the plant layout, and if everyone likes them, they must be good.

This is an Appeal to Common Belief. Is a good layout simply one that everyone likes? Are there not other considerations such as efficient work flow, good use of floor space, safety considerations etc.?

4. The team deserves a reward, they put a great deal of effort and sweat into that project.

This is an Appeal to Pity. The amount of work done is not necessarily an indicator of the quality of the work. The speaker hopes to get the listener to feel sorry for the team.

5. We’ve been making these parts the same way for three years, now they get rejected. The customer is just being a jerk.

This is a False Dilemma. “Either the parts are good or the customer is a jerk”. The parts over the last three years may have been only marginally acceptable and have deteriorated to the level of unacceptability, conditions may have changed and previously acceptable minor issues may not be acceptable today.

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