What's Your Mental Model?
There are many reasons for conflict but they ultimately can be distilled into the fact that we all have different mental models of how the world works. These mental models are both helpful and hurtful. On the one hand, they are incredibly helpful in the way that they simplify our lives and save us the energy of having to rethink every single viewpoint we have each time we’re confronted with a situation.
These models are all contextual. We have different models for each facet of life, from who we decide to be friends with, to what kind of music we listen to, to the kinds of food we eat and the make of car we drive.
Your parameters and mental model for restaurant selection might be that the restaurant use only locally grown produce and have primarily a vegetarian selection at reasonable prices. Your friend might have a mental model that dictates they only dine in higher end restaurants that have the finest wines and choicest cuts of meat. These are the opposite ends of the spectrum and there probably isn’t much of a compromise for the people at either end in finding a place they can dine together (i.e. the financial aspect alone is in essence a “deal breaker” if neither is willing to budge).
Or take for example your choice in where you live. One person wants to live in a metropolitan area surrounded by activity, shops, theater, restaurants, galleries, and diversity and their partner wants to live in a rural or small town atmosphere where there is grass in between the houses and one stop sign in town.
We don’t really understand consciously that these mental models are in action until we come up against someone who has opposing mental models. If you’re among likeminded people in an isolated atmosphere, you can definitely avoid the knowledge of personally understanding there are other models of the world that are possible. It’s not that you don’t realize these other beliefs are out there, however, because you know differences of belief are out there at least according to television, movies, and the internet.
Problem arise when we are not conscious of our mental models. We can get stuck and be stubborn and think ours is the only way. I’ve seen this happen with older folks in my family — there’s a right way and a wrong way, and that’s how it is. Period. They think that there is only one way for the world to work and the problems of the world lay in the non-compliance of everyone who doesn’t share their world view.
That would be an incredibly heavy burden, to be the keeper of the “truth” as to how the world works.
How does this fit into persuasion? Well, this falls under the heading of knowing thyself. When we excavate our own mental models, we can reverse engineer where things aren’t working, or if they are working, we can reverse engineer to see how we’ve become so successful at what we manifest.
Until Next Time,
Kenrick E. Cleveland