Control The Necker Cube

We wanted to give a shoutout to Jason Harris, CEO & Co-Founder of creative agency Mekanism (which own's Epic Signal). Harris wrote a book, The Soulful Art of Persuasion, which acts as a guide to help anyone become a master influencer in an age of distrust. Out September 10th, the book outlines 11 character-building habits that are essential to both personal growth and sustained business success.

This book is based on a radical idea: Persuasion isn’t about facts and argument. It’s all about personal character.

Below is an excerpt straight from the book, and one of our personal fav's.

Learn more about the book: thesoulfulart.com

Learn more about Mekanism: mekanism.com


Shifting from an outlook that emphasizes the differences between us to one that emphasizes our commonalities is a bit like the old two-dimensional Necker cube drawing everyone used to doodle in their school notebooks. 

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Look at it one way, and the square on the lower left is in the front of the cube. Look at it another way, however, and it’s in the back of the cube. Both are valid ways of viewing the image. But it’s impossible to see the picture both ways at the same time. More important, once you’ve recognized that there are two ways of viewing the image, you can switch back and forth between the two perspectives at will. Nothing about the picture changes—it was printed on the page long before you even bought this book. What changes is how you interpret what’s in front of you. 

The same goes for how you see other people. You can see them as a collection of attributes and identities that are different from yours—they have a different gender, speak a different language, have a different job, and so on. Or you can see them as a collection of features that they share in common with you—and, in some cases, as a collection of universal human characteristics (“We all need love”). Like the cube, once you recognize this fact, it becomes a lot easier to switch back and forth between the two perspectives. 

It becomes an ability that you are in complete control of. 

Now, in the case of the cube, the first time you see it, you’re likely to naturally favor one of the two options (either the left square is in front or it’s in back). It’s only after thinking that you can switch to the other perspective. And the same is true of our view of others. For some, their first-blush view of others is the “difference” view—even though they can shift to the “similarity” view with a little bit of effort. Ideally, your goal should be to flip this tendency, so that your first, unconsidered impression of other people is one in which your commonalities are at the forefront, and your differences are only apparent if you really look for them. 

For one, it’s a great way to get over any anxiety you might have about striking up a conversation with someone you perceive as a superior. We all get nervous talking to a good-looking person we are attracted to or interviewing for a job we really want. This makes us self-conscious, and maybe a little tongue-tied. Needless to say, when you stumble over your own words, it’s hard to be persuasive. Someone who is skilled at seeing others as no different from themselves is far less likely to get the sweats. 

Similarly, a habitual emphasis on commonalities can help quell any anxieties your conversation partner might have going into the talk. In my case, when someone is nervous about walking into my office, their anxiety doesn’t last very long since they can sense early on that I see them as an equal and that talking to me is not much different from talking with the coworker who sits next to them. 

A disposition that puts people at ease and makes it easy for them to open up will always improve your chances of finding the common ground. This commonality based outlook also helps guide conversations toward topics, values, experiences, and other personal details that you have in common with the other person, often without your trying. When this happens, it becomes obvious to whomever you’re talking with that the two of you are on the same side.