February 15, 2018
We have all felt that or said that in subtle ways. It’s a great conversation ender and it’s quite unfortunate.
Many of us operate at times in “Prove it!” mode. In this mode, we require evidence for why we should consider someone else’s point of view. This is a defensive stance. It feels like you are a guard standing at the top of the castle wall, calling down to the farmer standing outside the gate. “Prove that those sheep of yours are fit to come into the castle!”
“Prove it!” mode is adept at bringing out defensiveness in others. The person saying, “Prove it!” seems to be questioning whether the other person has ideas worthy of consideration. That can appear condescending or downright insulting.
The person on the receiving end of “Prove it!” is usually not the only one losing out. The person demanding proof may be depriving himself or herself of an opportunity.
When you demand proof before considering another person’s perspective, it is like going to a clothing shop, seeing an interesting piece of clothing and demanding proof it will fit you before trying it on. If you walk out of the shop because the salesperson can’t give you a persuasive argument for why it will fit you, then you deprived yourself of the potential for discovering something new. Trying the item on is really the only way to find out if it fits and will provide something desirable.
There are risks inherent in trying on another’s’ perceptions or ideas without first demanding proof of their worthiness. You might find out they see something more clearly than you do. You might find out you are wrong about something, or that your perspective is incomplete. You might find out that people who aren’t good at offering proof still have valid perspectives.
Since proving something true is much harder than finding reasons to question its validity, requiring proof is a very effective way of keeping out new ideas and perspectives. Only you can decide whether you value your current perspective more than you value seeing more completely.
If you value expanding your view, try taking “Prove it!” out of your vocabulary – whether spoken or unspoken. Your relationships will benefit as much as your personal growth.
Article Written By: Tod Fiste, LPC