Emotion is the opposite of thinking

Daryl Davis was playing in a bar called the Silver Dollar Lounge.

Afterwards a redneck came over and said: "I never heard a black man play the piano as good as Jerry Lee Lewis before."

Daryl was surprised, he said: "Well where do you think Jerry Lee Lewis learned it from?" 

The guy shrugged.

Daryl said: "He learned it the same place I did: black blues and boogie-woogie players, guys like Little Richard and Fats Domino."  

Then they sat down and had a drink and talked about music.

Eventually the guy said: "You know this is the first time I ever had a drink with a black man."

Daryl laughed and said he didn’t believe it.

So the guy opened up his wallet and showed him his Ku Klux Klan membership card.

He said talking to Daryl had made him reconsider his membership.

And at that point Daryl decided to connect with Klan members to convert them.

Not by fighting or by emotion, but by friendliness and simple human common sense.

Daryl said: "That’s why the best thing you can do is study up on the subject. I knew as much about the Klan, if not more, than many Klan people did. Just like any good salesman, you want a return visit and they recognised that I’d done my homework, which allowed me to come back again."

Daryl said, every time he got someone to quit the Klan, he’d ask for their robes.

One example he gives is when he had an "Exalted Cyclops" sitting in his car.

The man said: "We all know black people have a gene that makes them violent."

Daryl said: "Wait a minute, I’m black and I’ve never done a carjacking or a drive-by. How do you explain that?"

The guy said: "Your gene is latent, it hasn’t come out yet."

Daryl said: "Well we all know white people have a gene that makes them serial killers."

The guy said: "How do you figure that?"

Daryl said: "Well name me a black serial killer, you can’t. But Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, they’re all white, because white people have the serial killer gene."

The guy said: "But I never killed anyone."

Daryl said: "Your gene is latent, it hasn’t come out yet."

The guy said: "That’s stupid."

Daryl said: "Yes, it is, in fact it’s just as stupid as saying black people have a violent gene."

And the guy got very quiet and started thinking.

Five months later he gave Daryl his robes when he quit the Klan.

After 30 years of simply talking to Klan members, Daryl now has 200 Klan robes in his collection.

That’s 200 people who were converted, not by emotion but by reason.

And yet, it’s fashionable amongst marketing and advertising types to say that emotion works and reason doesn’t.

What this misses is that we want to provoke an emotion in the recipient.

That isn’t the same as making every communication emotional and ignoring reason.

Sometimes reason elicits the most emotional response.

But that seems to have escaped a lot of people.

The most successful politician currently is Nigel Farage, so Campaign interviewed him.

The amount of bile, and insults from "communications professionals" was overpowering.

Campaign was forced to issue an apology.

Its enquiry into Farage’s success was met with a barrage of raw emotion.

Clients should ask themselves if these are the people they’d trust to handle their business.

I know of an old black blues musician who’d do a better job.

Dave Trott is the author of Creative Blindness and How to Cure It, Creative Mischief, Predatory Thinking and One Plus One Equals Three


Start Your Free 30-Day Free Trial

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to campaignlive.com, plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events.

Become a subscriber


Don’t miss your daily fix of breaking news, latest work, advice and commentary.

register free