You Are Not Your Audience
What is the most important skill for any vegan advocate? My answer to this question is: the ability to put yourself in other people’s shoes.
If you want to influence people, you need to be aware of how others hear your message and how they see you. And you need to be able to imagine what it’s like to be them.
People are all different. You and the audience you want to reach may differ in some important ways. I call this the
YANYA Principle: You Are Not Your Audience
For instance, your primary focus may be the animals, while theirs is the environment. You may like a wide variety of foods, while the other person may have certain food allergies. You may have been raised with a lot of empathy for animals while they may be afraid of them. They may have less money than you, or live in a place where vegan products and dishes are much harder to find. And so on.
It is important that you adapt your message to your audience.
Think about someone selling cars. If someone is looking for a sporty car, the salesperson will likely pitch features such as the car’s speed and horsepower to them.
But when the salesperson has a couple of young parents in front of him, he’d be better off pitching the safety features of the car. It would be silly for the car salesperson to always use the same sales pitch, and to only talk about the things that interest him.
As vegan advocates, we too are selling something: a message.
There is more than one way to spread a message, and there is no one right way.
Don’t think that you have to talk about something specific (like animal rights) or that you have to present the argument in a certain way — like saying, for instance, that people have a moral obligation to go vegan.
If you think there is just one way to share your message, you are acting as if everyone should wear the same shoes: your shoes.
When talking to people, always think about your audience.
Try to see things from their perspective, and adapt your message accordingly.