Head with the Heart…Not with the Head

Roman statesmen and orator Cicero once said “If you wish to persuade me, you must think my thoughts, feel my feelings, and speak my words”. Believe it or not, as people, we feel much more than we think. Duh… news flash you may say sarcastically. True. But let’s slow down and ‘think’ about the implications. Cicero didn’t say that we can persuade him by proving him deathly wrong by using undeniable facts or by some amazing logic. We can persuade him by simply identifying with him, and feelings are critical element.

When we provide advice and feedback to family and friends, the answers many times they are seeking is not logical per se but more relational. There is an immense feeling component that must be embedded with our advice. We have to meet them at the heart level as well as the head level.  Our answer must be empathetic or else we don’t identify. We move on feelings and not on the other’s facts.

I share an example of death. When someone passes away, we wouldn’t want to say to a grieving person “Oh buck up! I lost someone close to me too you know. You can make it if you do step 1, 2 and 3 of my plan.” Sounds pretty crass right? The best solution for that moment is a hug and a look of sympathy. We know reasonably that the grieving person will eventually move on with life if they take care of themselves. However, a rational answer is not the answer they are looking for at this time. They want a relational answer. Yet we are ever – so – tempted to want to hear ourselves talk and pontificate an answer. This is where we shoot ourselves in the foot and do more damage than good. The grieving may wish we were in the coffin too at that point!

Now the death scenario may not be a routine thing. So let’s make it more practical. Think about the tasks we do at home or at work. I think there is nothing worst when someone comes into my personal space at home or at work and tell me how to do my task better. Granted, they are probably right. I may be doing the tasks ineffectively or at least inefficiently for how many years. However, the fact you criticize my routine leads to my mulish resistance. (The criticism may not be truly critical but that’s how I perceive and feel!) The relational answer is to praise my routine and ask if you can offer suggestion for improvement. I’ll go on to further to say that I prioritize tasks that I feel it’s easier to do. This does not mean it makes sense to do it first. Hardly! But it feels as such, so I do as such. I could care less of the logic but more so the feeling of freedom that I chose the course of travel.

Now I know I’m in good company saying that. (Don’t leave me hanging on this reader.) When I offer my tried-and-true method to some struggling sap (as I think during my regrettable moment of pride), she looks at me as if I have two heads. Dare I tell her how to do her work better she says inwardly! She rather you offer a solution that makes her feel good about herself and not belittle her expertise. This is why in a disagreement or fight, it is not enough to win an argument; but you must win a friendship. The issue is rarely a head but a heart matter.

The late author and personal development coach, Stephen Covey talked about seek first to understand than to be understood.  The classic guru on understanding people, Dale Carnegie mentioned sympathy is what every person desires and needs. Similarly Jesus of Nazareth taught his followers the timeless truth of considering first the feelings of others as a way to love our neighbors. Covey and Carnegie (both influenced by Jesus’ teachings in this area) clearly indicated that the logical answer was not enough. Our advice must be relational. It must be emotional.

Think about all people challenges at home or at work. Think about the issues encountered which seems to persist and possibly getting worse with mom, dad, sister, brother, best friend, boss, coworker or worse everyone. Think about why we are always spinning our wheels and not getting anywhere in many of our relationships. Could it be we have been brainwashed by culture and upbringing to think in terms of arguments and not affection? Could it be that we are bypassing the heart to get to the head? Could it be we are ignoring the true secret to influence? With persuasion, the head follows the heart and not the other way around; I believe this is the essence Cicero was saying.

Remember, people are not just looking for the right answer when we interact with them. They are looking for the right feelings as well. We are not human doings but human beings.  And feelings make up our inner being from that perspective. We indeed move on feelings and not just on facts. If we head in that direction, we will always reach the heart of the matter!  

~ Denley W. McIntosh



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3 responses to “Head with the Heart…Not with the Head

  1. Denley,
    Dave Pritchard here from the Woodland Hills Blog.
    What a great site you have here! Super positive and uplifting and I absolutely love your comments as well –

    “Think about the tasks we do at home or at work. I think there is nothing worst when someone comes into my personal space at home or at work and tell me how to do my task better.”

    That certainly hits the nail on the head for me. Ha! Our priorities are often not others priorities and when they or we can’t see that, the conflicts begin. I’m not a big bowler but have you ever noticed that when you go bowling, the minute someone is doing better than you, they almost instantaneously start telling you what your doing wrong – “Here let me show you how to hold that” or “You’re releasing it too soon” ext… Ha!

    I really was impressed with your comment on Greg’s “Who’s the Boss?” message. The “Image bearing motif” that you’ve brought to the discussion is a fantastic scriptural approach and a solid reconciliation between the two camps. As someone who has recently lost his wife of 15 years to cancer, I can attest to the fact that the Male / Female politic can even to some degree, transcend death. My wife Sarah was incredibly stubborn and strong willed – but that was the unique beauty of her character! She developed a strong self-sustaining independence after surviving a bone- marrow transplant before as a teenager. Although our marriage was solid, faithful and passionate, is was anything but conventional! Often knowing what people have come through in life helps us to understand who they are better and why they make the decisions and say the things they do.

    In retrospect, I’m still feeling quite bad about the sarcastic exchange that I had with “Amy Luna Mandarino” on the WH blog a few messages before. I felt her synopsis of Jonathan Martin’s message: “Making Friends with Monsters” was inaccurate, which I then kind of jumped on heavy-handed and came across as being unappreciative of her points and opinions. My response then kind of set the stage for the gender enmity that followed in the subsequent blogs. Nevertheless, I love and support Woodland Hill Church and have really grown through Greg’s messages, made a few great friends along the way and hope someday to visit there and worship with that branch of the family!!!!!
    Gods Blessing to You and Yours!
    Dave Pritchard

    • Hi Dave,

      First of all, I extend my condolences and thank you for sharing a bit of your story of your late, beloved wife. I appreciate your response in general. With respect to marriage role discussion or debate, I have been reading and meditating on the issue for quite some bit. I asked the Spirit to help me hear both sides and look at the beginning of our story and the end with fresh eyes to see God’s vision of and for humanity. I recognized what I see in between like book ends is our history as humanity – chapters of our journey of restoration toward the vision the Lord had in mind. Yet I have to acknowledge that God chooses whom he wills to accomplish his will whether a person or group, male or female. I can’t argue with his choice, but I do know whomever God chooses, his choice is for our sake, our betterment in general.

      With regards to the last blog, I agree with the bowling example. In fact, that is a great example. You’ve hit the nail on head – a dead strike!

      Thanks for the encouragement and blessing Brother. I hope to bring theology in layman’s clothing to every sphere that I can speak on. An accessible theology is one of the desperate needs for our community of faith. I trust I can serve in that area.

      I agree about Pastor Greg’s ministry. It has brought more awareness about my faith in Christ and its relevance in our culture. I appreciate Woodland Hills providing the blog platform to continue the conversation. (The Church has always understood her faith through dialogue. Blogging is one expression of that truth.) I likewise hope to visit and worship with that branch of the family.

      Enjoy your week.

      In His Truth & Love,

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