The book begins with a story of a committee that comes up with a great plan to supply new computers at no extra expense to the local library. First, a variant of the story is presented with the leader "winging" his presentation and resulting Q&A. Then, a "better" way is illustrated, showing how many common types of attacks can be handled in order to generate real "buy-in" from an audience.
Below are some of my main takeaways from the book. A full list of the 24 most common types of attacks and recommended responses is online.
- 4 categories of attacks: death by delay, fear mongering, confusion, and personal character assassination.
- "Don’t scheme to keep potential opponents, even the sneakiest attackers, out of the discussion. Let them in. Let them shoot at you. Even encourage them to shoot at you."
- "Don’t try to overcome attacks with tons of data, logic and yet more logic, or lists of reasons why the attacks are unfair, uninformed, or sneaky. Instead do what might seem to be the opposite."
- "Keep responses short, allowing no time for minds to wander."
- "Don’t try to crush attackers with ridicule, counterattacks, or condescension, even when it seems as though people deserve it, even when a part of you really wants to do just that, and you have the skills to do so."
- "Don’t focus on the attacker and his or her unfair, illogical, or mean argument (though it will be extremely tempting to do so)."
- "Watch the crowd very carefully."
- "When you are responding to an attack, the reactions of the majority are the real issue, not the look of pleasure or dislike on the face of the attackers."
- "Don’t try to wing it, even if you know all the facts thoroughly, even if the idea seems bulletproof, and even if you expect a friendly audience."
- "Gain people’s attention by allowing the attackers in and letting them attack. Then win the minds of the relevant, attentive audience with simple, clear, and commonsense responses. Win their hearts by, most of all, showing respect. Constantly monitor the people whose hearts and minds you need: the broad audience, not the few attackers. Prepare for these steps in advance."