Reading and Thinking

Bill Abbate

Of the many ways we can write and speak, two recently caught my interest. A light went off when I read the simple yet clear words of Don Marquis about making people think. Although written nearly a century ago, his words still ring true.

Make them think

I have been speaking and writing for many years, but the following words from Marquis, a well-known humorist, journalist, and author, helped me see something new. He stated:

“Ifyou make peoplethink they’re thinking, they’ll love you; But if you reallymake them think, they’ll hate you.” Don Marquis (1878–1937)

How do you make others think when you write or speak? Do you persuade, convince, or perhaps connive enough to make them think they are thinking, or do you push their intellect to make them use that brain of theirs?

What do you take away from what you read online or on paper? How about when someone is speaking to you?

Note: Since the two ways influence how we both write and speak, I will focus more on writing from this point forward.

Many writers walk a fine line between the two ways of influencing their readers. Many times they attempt both in the same article.

Most of my writing centers around life, leadership, and inspiration. I do my best to provide material to help readers think more deeply, thoroughly, and in new ways. I try to help them broaden their perspectives and build hope to inspire them to take action in and on their lives.

One of the reasons I often use quotes in my writing is to get the point across in the best way possible. When words are written and written well, why not give credit where credit is due? A short quote can make a more significant impact than many paragraphs to deliver the most value to readers. It is wise to incorporate great quotations in essays and articles. Sure, it takes more work, but it is worth it.

Many writers, including myself, attempt to make people think. I’m afraid I have to disagree with Marquis’s assertion that “they’ll hate you,” meaning everyone, yet there is no doubt some will. His words have made me think considerably about this subject, and I am thankful to him rather than hating him.

Those who want to grow, and expand their thinking and perspectives, want to read material that makes them think! True for me, how about for you?

Make people think they’re thinking

How do you make others think they are thinking? We can be so hurried in our reading we can read unthinkingly, accepting what is written based on the author’s credibility. We often shake our heads in agreement with their words, even when they have not thought something through or written utter nonsense! This tends to be especially true when they have a Ph.D. following their name. How often do our readers read in this manner?

Until you question what is written, how can you do anything but read in a way that makes you think you are thinking?

Thoughts about thinking

While I love Marquis’s quote, I do not agree with it completely. That would be letting him make me think I am thinking. Instead, I believe he has purposely exaggerated the effects. Exaggeration can be a great way to make a point, and Marquis’s words do it well.

I want not to make people think they are thinking but rather help them think more deeply and clearly. If it takes making people hate me because I help them think, so be it. Write long enough, and you, too, will have haters!

“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it.” Henry Ford (1863–1947)

What makes us think we can help others think? Is it the many decades of life and experience we have collected? Partly. For me, it is also because I served in top leadership roles, coached, mentored, and taught thousands of people in the past 50 years. Think of the experience you bring to the table. I bet it is significant too!

The one qualification many of us possess that trumps all others is the drive and love of learning. Out of our passion for learning, we often have a heartfelt desire to help others create a life they can be proud of. Not selfishly or boastfully, but by taking pride in knowing they are using their time well on this earth and living a good life.

Final thoughts

While I try not to make my articles about me, in this case, it is unavoidable.I see my life and yours, intertwined with desire and curiosity to know, do, and become more. It is who we are from the depths of our hearts.

I wish you a fantastic life filled with a passion for learning and living as you help others walk through their lives. May you be filled with wisdom, compassion, hope, and the joy of helping others think alongthink the way!

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA

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