“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
If you want to get your readers to think about what you are saying, and to take it on board, it is very useful to consider the tone that you adopt. If your readers feel that you are being patronising, or that you are treating them as stupid, this is likely to get their backs up. If you say that you have a ‘mission’ (ensure everyone uses the best methods for teaching; get all children to read; address social inequality) this rather suggests that no one else thought to do such things before you came along. If you tell your readers that everything they do is wrong, but that you know how to make it right, this is likely to annoy them as well. There are a lot of very intelligent people out there, quite a few of whom like to style themselves as ‘New Traditionalists’. They tell me that it will take years to overcome the damage that has been done to our system by ‘progressive education’. Clearly, since I’ve been working in the system for the last twenty years, I should shoulder my own portion of the blame.
I don’t feel a burning desire to change other people’s minds, but if you do, then it’s worth focusing carefully on your social, emotional and interpersonal skills. You don’t win people’s hearts and minds by being rude, patronising or inflexible; by telling them that what you do is right, and that everyone else really should do it exactly the same way as you. You don’t win people’s hearts and minds by being rude about colleagues, or by fermenting division and trying to paint the world in shades of black and white. The reason that my teaching books have been so successful is not because I have a magic formula that no one else discovered. It is not because I have a brilliant intellect, or a method that will work where every other method has failed. It is because I speak to my readers on a level; I treat them as intelligent, sensitive and sensible human beings. I understand their frailties, their struggles and their mistakes, because I have been there (and regularly still am there) too.
The best, the only, way to win people’s hearts and minds is to be kind, gentle, generous, humble, funny where possible, and unfailingly polite. You are no more special than I am; but I am definitely no more special than you.