The Boxer vs Green Jujitsu
Last week I was reading a newspaper article on simmering tensions in Northern Ireland (from whence I hail) where somebody quoted The Boxer by Simon & Garfunkel:
All lies and jests
Still a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest
Despite having heard this song a zillion times, I’d never really paid attention to the last two lines.
This delicate description of confirmation bias was still bouncing around my head when it was announced that climate sceptic Mike Pompeo had been appointed the new US Secretary of State by Donald Trump. Pompeo is on record saying:
“There are scientists who think lots of different things about climate change. There’s some who think we’re warming, there’s some who think we’re cooling, there’s some who think that the last 16 years have shown a pretty stable climate environment.”
Which is technically correct, but only if you are prepared to stretch to breaking point the statistic that the first group represents 97% of climate scientists and the other two just 1% between them (the other 2% aren’t sure). But even though this statement is in reality a steaming pile of horse manure, I have no doubt that Pompeo believes it, because he hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.
And this is why shouting about climate change doesn’t really change very much – it falls on deaf ears. There’s a neat synergy between my thinking on engagement and Paul Simon’s songcraft as I often liken the standard engagement approach to boxing – try to pummel the other guy into submission, and they’ll instinctively put their guard up.
My Green Jujitsu approach to engagement gets around this by reframing Sustainability into something that gets through that guard. If people want to hear about engineering, we talk engineering, if they are interested in finance, we talk money and if they’re healthcare professionals, we talk health.