Convincing others. What works/what doesn't?greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
Now that I have been convinced, through my own research and the good people at Yourdons forum, that Y2K is much more serious than most people thought; I have been thinking about ways to convince others to take it seriously. Even if you dont believe the worst case scenarios, it is still hard to convince people to take this seriously. I think I have figured out a few of the techniques that work and those that dont.
Arguments that dont convince people:
1. Youre in denial! Theyre not in denial, just ignorant. If a person has a hard time understanding a subject it doesnt mean they are in denial. And they will tend to resent you for saying it. 2. TEOTWAWKI If this is the first thing that you tell people, then they wont believe anything you say after that. 3. Many people on the Internet are predicting a major catastrophe. Again, if you start with this approach, people tend to tune out afterwards. 4. If you live within 5 miles of a 7-11, youre toast! Not sure if I quoted Paul Milne exactly here, but this comes off as being too belligerent. 5. Run for the hills! People naturally resist panic if they dont understand why you are saying it. They will think you're crazy. 6. Prepare like its a hurricane or a blizzard that you know is coming. Again, the best response you will get is You really think it might be that bad? 7. Im buying a generator, stocking up on canned goods, water, etc., etc. Response: Now I know youve gone off the deep end.
Arguments that are easier for most to swallow:
1. Did you know that the electric power industry issued a report recently in which the best they could say was that they are cautiously optimistic, and that report stated that not one power company has completed its Y2K project? 2. Did you know that if any nuclear power plant can not prove that there will be no safety problems due to Y2K that the NRC will order them to shut down? 3. Did you know that Windows 95 is not Y2K compliant? 4. Let me give you some examples of some major companies Y2K budgets: Citicorp $500 million, GM $500 million, etc. 5. Did you know that the federal government has admitted that they cant fix all of the problems, so they are concentrating on mission-critical ones?
In general, I have found that facts are much more convincing than metaphors and speculation.
Anyone care to add to the lists?
Thanks, Buddy from Inside the Beltway
-- Buddy Y. (email@example.com), September 24, 1998
Great idea, Buddy. I find that the first thing that I need to convince people of is just how completely dependent that we are on computer technology, including the "embedded" ones. Then point out that, TODAY, with so little time left, there is not one single electric utility, bank, telecom, etc., that is, TODAY, ready, in spite of the fact that many have been trying to the the problem for years. This leads into how INTERDEPENDENT these functions are -- its not just a quesion of whether "my" bank or electric utility is compliant -- I need for everyones to be. And there are no feasible workarounds here, you can't just decide that the banks will go back to paper files and hire knowledgeable personnel to run the bank. (A good example that I point out, and you can too since you live around D.C. also, is that old Riggs bank on M St in Georgetown. It is HUGE, like all banks used to be huge, to accomodate All Those Files. But no longer, banks are now quite small ... thanks to computers!) The deadline is fixed, there is not enough time to fix this problem, it will take this world down, with multiple simultaneous failures of our life sustaining technology in a very short period of time. And personally, I don't see it coming back up any time soon after. -- Thanks my approach, hope I didn't sugarcoat it too much. --
-- Joe (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 24, 1998.
Buddy: I've basically given up talking to people about Y2K. And the funny thing about it is, not one single person has approached me about Y2K! So either people are keeping it to themselves, or they are ignorant or they don't really care about what could happen. It's now on the news everynight, in the newspapers, magazines, workplace, internet, radio....the information is out there! Even my mother who is 75 years old is informed! Everyone has access to the same information as we do. If they choose to stick their heads in the sand then there's nothing more anyone can do for them. It's too overwhelming for me to take on the burden of being an informant.
-- Bardou (email@example.com), September 24, 1998.
I'm trying to work through depression about just this subject. I had the best of intentions in trying to convey to those I care about what kinds of disruptions they can expect from y2k. I tried not to paint it as a doom and gloom event. The way I delt with TEOTWAWKI was to say that it might be the end of the world as we know it but it IS NOT the end of the world. That did not help at all. I started a virtual newsletter and began sending it out to raise awareness. I have received a very mixed response. Those that tend to not want to deal with the facts attack me. These are friends and family I want to protect. Amazing. I know it's just a way to protect themselves but it makes it difficult to continue. Others have written asking serious questions and I am pleased with their interest but I find it difficult to break this news to them. I'm to the point where I will continue to prepare for my wife and my child and my mother. My real pain is that I can't provide for them. I don't have the means to do so. I fear the day when they knock on my door and I must turn them away. I will give them my food, but I will never talk a grain of rice away from my wife, my son or my mother. This pain is incredi
-- Michael Taylor (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 24, 1998.
I'm trying to work through depression about just this subject. I had the best of intentions in trying to convey to those I care about what kinds of disruptions they can expect from y2k. I tried not to paint it as a doom and gloom event. The way I delt with TEOTWAWKI was to say that it might be the end of the world as we know it but it IS NOT the end of the world. That did not help at all. I started a virtual newsletter and began sending it out to raise awareness. I have received a very mixed response. Those that tend to not want to deal with the facts attack me. These are friends and family I want to protect. Amazing. I know it's just a way to protect themselves but it makes it difficult to continue. Others have written asking serious questions and I am pleased with their interest but I find it difficult to break this news to them. I'm to the point where I will continue to prepare for my wife and my child and my mother. My real pain is that I can't provide for them. I don't have the means to do so. I fear the day when they knock on my door and I must turn them away. I will give them my food, but I will never take a grain of rice away from my wife, my son or my mother. This pain is incredi
-- Michael Taylor (email@example.com), September 24, 1998.
You touched on the truth of what convinces others, and gave good examples, without coming right and saying what the key is. Para 1 is statements. Para 2 is QUESTIONS!
Very few people ever change their mind because of something you say. People change their own mind because a question you asked them caused them to think, and to consider what you said to them with a ? on the end.
It is easy to reply "Your full of it", but not so simple to explain why.
-- Uncle Deedah (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 24, 1998.
You are exactly right, Uncle Deedah. Although, it wouldn't work to say, "Do you know the end of the world is coming?"
-- Buddy Y. (email@example.com), September 24, 1998.
It is? OHMYGOD, your kidding aren't you? Please tell me your kidding.
-- Uncle Deedah (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 24, 1998.
Oh by the way, Uncle De..
Duck! (Chicken ?) There's a himmacane a comin' you' way.
No wait, don't duck, it's wet down there in the basement. Better get on the roof. 8<)
-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (email@example.com), September 24, 1998.
Seriously, to talk to somebody is easy - relate it to the gadget they are using (checkout counter, library computer, telephone, tax offcie, mail sorter, bank clerk, water bill, pager, electric drill, microphone, car, automobile diagnostic computer, UPS register, internet, email, or about anything except shoes and a shovel (Heck, even those: "Oh by the way is company's paycheck routine year 2000 tested yet?")
I ask: Has it been tested yet? [Doesn't matter what it is. This works every time.]
Or: Wait until that breaks in jan 2000, what will the boss do then?
Or: has your company told you they are ready for year 2000?
Some know about the problem, some don't. Nobody gets offensive (yet). If they are interested or skeptical, I relate their gadget to the satellite breakdown in June, or to the credit cards losing authorizations, or to the Madicare screwup by the Fed's.
They seem to listen. Nobody yet has told me I'm crazy, most ask where they get the book. A few give me some good dope, like a source for generators locally or prices on gear in the area.
-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 24, 1998.
Michael, for what it's worth you are not the only one to run into this. It took a long time to convince my sister. My dad still doesn't believe me and alternates between attacking programmers in general or me in particular. I have to keep trying because the alternative is ...not good.
-- areseejay (email@example.com), September 24, 1998.
Michael, hang in there...you are not alone. Many churches are starting to prepare also, and hopefully can help some of the people who are just barely getting by. If you can, get together with others who are preparing and maybe see what they have to offer and you could all pull your resources together when the time comes. It is HARD to go this alone, but with the support of others who are in the same boat as you are, many times there is unity and harmony. It's scary alone, but a tad bit more comforting with good caring friends...and believe me there are some out there. I know that there are. Blondie
-- Blondie Marie (Blondie@future.net), September 24, 1998.
Don't try to "convince" anyone. No one wants to hear about the end of life as they know it. You would have better luck signing them up for Amway. Let people you care about discover it for themselves, once they do, let them know what you have learned. What you are doing to prepare. It is too hard to sell people on Y2K. Be a source of knowledge, when your loved ones discover the potential problems y2k will bring. I have let my family and close friends know I am keeping up to date on the web, and if they have any questions, I'll let them know what I have found out. This is the best way to get them involved and thinking.
-- Bill (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 25, 1998.
I think that sometimes the people that fight you are the ones who, once they finally get it, will actually do something about it. The ones who accept everything you say without argument will also accept everything the Pollyannas say without arguement. Do you remember the OJ trial? They did a little survey of people to see who they believed. One of the categories was "I believe whoever is testifying at the time". A lot of us fall into this category, actually I am like that. A good fight will strengthen both parties involved, that's my opinion.
-- Amy Leone (email@example.com), September 25, 1998.
Good point. That's what worked for me here on this forum!
Thanks, Buddy from "Inside the Beltway"
-- Buddy Y. (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 25, 1998.
I've also experienced the same frustration/depression expressed by others here who attemping to enlist the ones they love in preparing.
However, I've had some limited success (40-50%). Some things I've found useful are:
1. Speaking one-on-one is best (or in very small groups) Speaking to large groups requires some credibility with the issues and there simply aren't any PhDs in Y2Kology. People like Ed Yourdon, Sen Bennett, Sen. Dodd, Congressman Horn, Ed Yardeni, et al. are essential for bringing the credibility it needs.
2. Encourage everyone who has or can get Internet access to do the homework themselves. Point people to magazine articles. One I've found especially useful is "Year 2000: Social Chaos or Social Transformation" in the Oct 98 issue of The Futurist It's an excellent synopsis of the whole problem and it offers positive advice on where we go from here.
3. Take only 1-2 (at most) hours per person. You are literally hitting them between the eyes with a sledge hammer. Let them know you are speaking to them because you care. Also tell them you are more than willing to discuss this problem with them but that, after your initial conversation, they will need to contact you. You simply cannot waste valuable time forcing this issue down someone's throat. It is also vitally important that you not demand nor expect immediate acceptance of what you have been telling them. People need time to think over what you've said and come to their own conclusions (but see next item)
4. When you begin to see signs that those you have spoken to are beginning to take it seriously, keep an eye on them. They will experience intense fear, panic and depression. Let them know you care and that you have also experienced these feelings. DO NOT LEAVE PEOPLE ALONE if you know them to be taking the issue seriously and frightened. Check in periodically. Let them know that they are not alone in this.
5. Encourage positive, communal attitude and personal responsibilty. Indeed, by preparing both personally and as small communities, we can DRAMATICALLY lesson the severity of problems that any actual disruptions cause. Point out that there is time remaining in which preparations can be made.
6. Discourage any immediate drastic action. Initial preparations can easily begin by simply sorting through your current house hold inventories looking for those items you already have which might come in handy. This gives people a 'breathing space' and still takes positive action to 'move off of paralysis'.
Yes, the bigger decisions must be made but not until the first large waves of fear and panic subside and each individual situation can be properly accessed.
These larger decisions must be based on sound judgement, possible scenarios and contingency plans
It took me about 3 months of hard, daily research just to convince myself. It took me 3 weeks to fully convince my spouse. In that 3 weeks, an agreement was made that I would make NO 'expensive or irreversible' decisions until she had an opportunity to evaluate the facts for herself.
7. Discourage the 'I gotta build a huge arsenal" attitude. Point out that you can't eat bullets. I'm not saying that guns are bad or that people who already own guns shouldn't have a few extra boxes of ammunition on hand. But no one should put all their eggs into this basket. This is an especially important decision for people who have never owned guns before. I neither encourage nor discourage gun ownership, but I do tell non-gun owners that, should they decide to purchase a gun, they owe it their family, friends, and community to get proper training and ALWAYS follow professional safety procedures. They also owe it to those they love to get sound, professional advise BEFORE PURCHASING. (This advice should not come from Uncle 'shoot-em-up-yeeha' Bubba. Find someone trained and qualified to offer such advice such as a law enforcement officer or other weapons expert.) I point out that accidents with guns are not only easy but more often than not, irreversible (frightened, untrained people have killed their spouses beliving them to be burglars). Guns are simply tools, they are NOT the ANSWER to Y2K.
8. No single approach works with everyone. Try to relate it to the individual you are speaking withFor example, when I spoke with my brother who has a masters in history, I knew he had a good grounding in the many civilizations that that have existed throughout recorded/archeological history. He knows how various civilization lived and died out. So pointing out the potential (if we do nothing and wait for 'someone else' to fix it) was no problem. Getting him to do the personal homework/research was no problem.
9. Do not attack other peoples' belief systems. Indeed, our differences must be put aside now so that we may work together. When I spoke with my spouse's sister, who is fairly religeous (and which over the years has cause a small bit of friction), she began to incorporate what I was telling her into her readings of Revelations. What I told her was that while I did not personally share that view, if her faith gives her comfort and allows to take positive action, then that was a GOOD thing and that I personally was willing to put whatever religeous/political difference aside to work together on this very important issue. She agreed.
10. Initial discussions should involve PARENTS ONLY. If and when and how parents choose to discuss this with their children is their own business. This right must be respected if at all possible. Large family gatherings/picnics/reunions are not the place for initial discussions.
11. The 0-10 scale is useful here. 0 means 'no problem' and 10 being a hopeless situation (some of the biological terrorist scenarios fit here). Let folks know that there are many unknowns and no one can authoritatively tell them where on the scale actual events will fall. But if events are on the lower to middle-upper range, then personal and communal preparations we take now can dramatically reduce our own community's disaster scale.
12. Finally, for some friends, I've had to stress that the Bill & Monica media circus is a complete and utter waste of the precious time we have left. Regardless of whether you are Repulican or Democrat or something else, we currently have much more important fish to fry. Our differences on this are now insignificant and irrelevant. Any further discussion serves only to distract us from the real work that needs to be done.
The above information is not meant to be all-inclusive or universally applicable. In net-speak it's YMMV (your milage may vary).
That's about all I have time for now. I hope this is helpful to those of you working this issue. Please share any additional suggestions or tips.
-- Steve B. Cooper (Steve199@usa.net), September 26, 1998.
Thanks Steve, good recommendations.
-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (email@example.com), September 28, 1998.
As you all have seen within the news we here in Florida had a near miss w/ "Hurricane George" It was interesting to see panic on peoples faces that shopped at my Home Depot. It was also interesting how much money people would spend concerning this Hurricane, as to what they haven't even thought about spending concerning Y2K situation. I get very personal w/my customers and ask them questions as to what they are doing for Y2K ??? Most are not dealing w/ the question well. In order to get their attention, I mention that they will not be able to watch Monday night football soon??? They look at me like I'm nuts,hey,sorry but that will something to consider. I also ask if they would like to see most prisons opened within the next year ??? That gets their attention. But mostly the question I use is; Do you know how to use the manual crank on the gas pumps at the gas stations??? It's hard to really tell people about this,because we here know about the situation,they don't...I get overly demanding with the information I know about. It's like I need to force it down their throats so they know, but it's not going to work that way. It's like we know a secret,and we all need to tell everyone we see. But they don't want to know what we know... At that point I only tell them to find out about Y2K,if not thenselves,their kids, that seems to work for me...
-- Furie (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 29, 1998.
Buddy, I've started the task of attempting to get our church (small, rural, poor----and wanting to build a new building) to take Y2K seriously and to prepare. Results have been mixed, but the things I hear most often from those who are taking it seriously are things that I put into my first address to them:
1. "Well, if it doesn't turn out bad, we can always give the food to the local food pantry. Doesn't cost us much." Note here that we contribute greatly to a food pantry anyway. That is a key issue, the fact that preparation is not wasted! BTW, ask some people in the Gulf states --- and in Australia --- about that.
2. "Yeah, we do have a lot of elderly people here. We really do need to look out for them."
In other words, they've related to the low overall cost of preparation (regarding food storage) compared to the overall benefit, and they've bought in to the concept of helping others.
A couple of notes on this. We now have a committee, since a brother and sister have volunteered to help. There are 3 engineers in our church, and all 3 are the Y2K committee.
Second, our first food storage idea is simple. Many here garden and can, as a normal way of life. We are asking that everyone increase their gardens next year, dedicating the increase to the Lord. We'll than have "harvest festivals," with canning/dehydrating or otherwise laying aside of these foods (church basement will be converted to a storage facility.......the men will build shelves while the women can the food.
Important: once people begin preparing, even if it's only as small a preparation as laying aside extra home canned foods, it's fairly easy to convince them to ratchet up the level of preparation. It's taking that first step that's critical.
-- rocky knolls (email@example.com), September 30, 1998.