When you want to make a point, better have your facts straight. But if you want to convince someone, I'll show you a better way.
John Stonestreet and I talk quite often on BreakPoint about the importance of fathers. And when we do, we usually point to statistics (like I did on the air last week) that reveal that in terms of education, delinquency, drug abuse, and sex and pregnancy, young people who have no father fare worse than those who do.
And that's all true. But there are a few problems with relying solely on statistics. The person you're debating can come up with stats to counter yours. And many statistics need interpretation. Just listen to the debate over the unemployment rate and you'll find yourself agreeing with Mark Twain, who famously quipped, "There are three kinds of lies: Lies, [darned] lies, and statistics."
But most importantly, simply telling someone something rarely convinces them of anything. Facts, statistics, moral assertions: They speak to the head, not to the heart.
There's a rule that good writers and debaters try to observe, and you may have heard it before: Show, don't tell. In other words, don't lecture your readers to make a point. Show them what you're talking about. Tell a story. Provide illustrations. Aim at the heart.
And that's exactly what one major company, Gillette (you know, the guys who maker razors), did this Fathers' Day with a commercial called "Go Ask Dad." It presents in such a heart-warming, simple, and convincing way just how important it is for — in this case — young men to turn to dad for advice and help.
Here's the gist: Procter and Gamble, Gillette's parent company, says that "in a world where screen time tends to outweigh actual face time, the internet often replaces dad as the go-to source for 'how to' information." Some 94 percent of teenagers, they claim "ask the internet for advice before their dads."
So Gillette devises a contest between the Web and fathers. They bring in teenage boys from different countries and put them in a room with a computer. Then they tell the boys they need to figure out how to do a few simple tasks. Learn how to tie a tie. Learn how to ask a girl out on a date. Fry an egg. And of course, learn how to shave.
The kids are not daunted. They're used to going to the Web to learn about all kinds of things. But they soon find out that instructional videos and Web forums aren't much help. And we get to watch their comical failures.
So as one young man struggles with his knot or another burns the eggs . . . in walks dad.
And the teaching begins. When it comes to asking out a girl, "You've got to make eye contact," one dad demonstrates as he looks into the eyes of his son (although I'd say the old man's dance moves leave a bit to be desired — but the son doesn't mind.)
Holding a tie in his hands, another dad advises his son, "You'll have to go around twice because of your size." Hands join on the slip knot as dad shows him how.
"This is how I do it," one dad says to his son, whose face is smeared with shaving cream. "Hey, that's pretty good," he encourages the boy. "There. Your first shave."
At the end, the boys are asked, so, who did better. The computer or dad?
"The better teacher was my dad," says one. "Mi Papa" says another. "He's more personal with his information," a French-speaking boy concludes.
And finally, here's the clincher: My dad "knows me and who I am," says a fourth. Hugs and "I love you's" ensue, and I'm wiping a tear away from my eye.
Hats off to Gillette. Oh, sure, they may make some extra razor sales for that first shave. But they did a wonderful job of showing us just how important dads are in the lives of their children.
Originally posted at breakpoint.org.