The Strength of Gentleness: How to Actually Influence People

By Jess Ford
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A gentle woman influences her friend
I believe social media is indeed a good thing at its core, but these communication streams are lined with ugliness and hostility. This begs the question, in a world of constant blaring messages, how can we actually influence people without hurting them in the process?

In today’s world, we have endless streams of communication and unlimited access to information. Social media platforms have created an opportunity for connection and collaboration like never before. Still, it has also opened the door for any person to share their thoughts to the extent at which they please. I believe social media is indeed a good thing at its core, but these communication streams are lined with ugliness and hostility. This begs the question, in a world of constant blaring messages, how can we actually influence people without hurting them in the process? 

Remembering the people behind the machines.

People are bold behind screens. They fearlessly and carelessly shout their innermost thoughts without meditation or consideration. People become offended. People are influenced, people are hardened, people add to the white noise. Opinions become engrained and personal, and there is a sense of attack at the moment of disagreement or question: screams, shouts, cries, laughs, and chaos.

As I said, I believe social media is an excellent thing at its core. I think that it can be used as a tool for good in the world. But the most upsetting part about social media is that nearly every person wants to share their opinions, but very few people have ever changed their perspective while scrolling through their feed. It seems counterintuitive that everyone would sit in a circle, spewing different opinions and disagreements without any effort to understand each other; But on social media, this is what happens. We might as well talk to ourselves.

Rebuttal or re-evaluate?

If you are reading this article, I am willing to bet that you are pro-life and that you have posted or shared social media content promoting pro-life ideas. Let me be clear: there is absolutely nothing wrong about asserting your opinion to fight for the preborn. It is noble to be bold for the voiceless and fragile. However, I want also to add that your social media posts and shares will seldom change anyone’s mind about abortion. 

It is incredibly important to understand this because it should change your strategy about how you communicate. This fact does not mean you should stop posting about pro-life issues. It merely means you must understand the mind of those who are pro-choice. 

I promise you; every pro-choice person has a rebuttal for your statistic. 

As a group of people pursuing the goal of making abortion an unthinkable option for women, we must have one thing at the forefront of our mind: love. To be pro-life is to be pro-love, and no one changes their mind in a screaming match.

How to actually influence people.

If we want to rally troops around this issue, and if we’re going to grow our voice and our strength as a movement, we must be known for our love. In settings where you are speaking on social media or in conversations with someone who is disagreeing with you, your love should be manifested in a manner of gentleness:

24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,” — 2 Timothy 2:24-25

Being gentle does not mean that you back away from speaking the truth. Gentleness means that you speak the truth while showing incredible respect and understanding to the person to which you are speaking. 

People tend to listen to others that communicate with logic, gentleness, and love. We can’t let our pro-life passion drive us into becoming obnoxious, hardened people. Our passion is a powerful tool, but we must steer it in a different direction, letting it drive us into strategic communication for the sake of women and the preborn. We must think and speak differently.

One last thing…

Changing someone’s mind rarely happens in a single moment. Perspective change is a process— a long process. And that is okay! 

If you want to see more people rally around this movement for the benefit of women and children, remember to be gentle and thought-provoking. Speak in a clear, gentle, and compassionate manner. It is essential to be knowledgeable about the subject. Be ready to speak with insight. Ask people the right questions, seek understanding from their perspective, share your story, share stories of your loved ones, and be nice. 

I promise your Facebook debates are not as productive as loving those that disagree with you. People will always be defensive of their opinions, but kindness and gentleness lead people to change.

Let’s build an army with kindness and understanding, strategic and humble. Let’s make abortion unthinkable.


© 2020 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved.

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