This article could also be titled: “How to Convince Friends and Family to Prepare for Economic Collapse.” One of the greatest problems for the prepper is getting family and friends on board without alienating them or terrifying them into inaction. With this article, I hope to use my experience to show you how to gently and persuasively warn friends and family about the coming economic crisis. I have used this approach with several people and found it to be successful.
I am writing this article now because I believe that now is the time to approach your sheeple about prepping if you have not done so already. More and more people are noticing that something is wrong with our economy, and many of them are probably ready to hear about preparedness, but only if you approach them from the right direction. My goal is to help you find a good approach.
Why should you listen to me? Well, in my previous job, I was a corporate educator at a large mortgage bank. I learned two things from that job: how to watch my income spiral down into oblivion along with the entire mortgage industry, and how to explain complex concepts in simple ways. You don’t need my help to watch your income spiral into oblivion, so instead I will teach you how to explain complex concepts.
Before we get started, let’s emphasize a few basic rules that educators follow. I will elaborate on these rules in this article, and then I will show you how to put them into practice.
Three Basic Rules of Persuasion
Rule 1: Take it slow.
Rule 2: Keep it simple and sane (KISS).
Rule 3: Relate it back to their lives.
Now let’s expand these concepts a little bit.
Rule 1: TAKE IT SLOW
Are you sure that you want to have this conversation? There are schools of thought that say you should never mention your preps to anyone. Think this through carefully; otherwise you may have 45 family members knocking on your door next winter. I considered this before mentioning it to anyone; however, I don’t think life is worth living if everyone I love dies, especially if I could have warned them. Besides, my nearest relative lives a five hour drive away from me. They’ll have a long walk to pester me.
Define your audience. Think ahead and focus your efforts on the most level-headed, trustworthy, “solid” people that you know. This has several purposes. First of all, such people are more likely to listen to you and believe you. Secondly, other people will trust that person; once you persuade them,so they can subsequently persuade two or three other people.
Establish essential concepts and build on them. That’s how adults learn. You see it in this very article; I have given you three simple rules and now I am expanding on them.
Rule 2: KEEP IT SIMPLE AND SANE (KISS)
Don’t expect too much, too fast. Remember, that some folks’ idea of “preparing” is to buy an extra six-pack on Saturday because the liquor stores are closed on Sundays. Take it easy; my experience is that prepping is a daunting task to most people and if you give them too much information you will spook them. Once they’re spooked, it’s hard to get them to listen at all.
Climb down from the crazy tree. No, I am not saying that you are crazy for being a prepper. I am saying that most people think that preppers are crazy. Your goal here is to persuade and convince. I would never have convinced my auntie successfully if I had mentioned my gas masks or my plans for a fallout shelter. Keeping your mouth shut about these things is also good OPSEC. Your goal is to sound just a little bit more prepared than them: “Terry and I bought a few cans extra cans of Spaghetti-Os last week…”
Keep language plain and simple. Imagine that you’re explaining all this to a 12-year-old. Use simple words and concepts. Adults learn better that way. Complicated language makes them feel threatened, and they tune it out.
Keep concepts plain and simple, too. The novice trainer’s most common mistake is to dump a bunch of information on the learner and believe that “since they heard it, they know it.” That’s not how adults learn. We learn through repetition of basic concepts.
Rule 3: WITH A RELATION
Relate it to their life, not yours. Imagine that you go on two blind dates. The first person talks about themselves non-stop all through dinner. You can barely get a word in edgewise. The second person engages you in interesting conversation and hangs on your every word. Which person do you call back?
You call back the person that talks with you, not at you. The same is true in persuasion. You are telling them these things because you love them. Listen closely to how they respond, like the loving person that you are.
Use concrete examples that matter to them. Which of these two approaches is more captivating?
“A loaf of bread might cost you $20 next fall.”
“The Federal Reserve was established in 1913, as the central banking authority of the United States. The Federal Reserve is a monopolistic cartel of bankers, and they established a new kind of currency called fiat currency, which is unconstitutional. Now, fiat currency is basically just paper backed up by law. It doesn’t mean anything…”
Obviously, the short sentence that relates to their life is better than the ten-minute history lecture on something they barely understand and don’t care about.
Now Let’s Practice.
With these rules in mind, practice a typical conversation. I have provided a script below, but in reality you don’t want a one-sided script; you want a conversation. Talk with them, not at them.
Also, notice that each part of the conversation is related to one of our three rules.
Rule 1: START SLOW…
Start with Pleasantries. (This establishes a sense of ease and rapport.) “Hi Aunt Bea, it’s been awhile since we talked. Yes, Terry and I are doing well. We went hiking last weekend and really enjoyed it. How are things in Mayberry?”
Explain why you are calling them. (This gets their attention and prepares them for what’s next.) “I’m calling you because I have something serious to talk about, and I know you’re level-headed and you’re likely to listen to me.”
Establish your credibility. (Adults want to know why they are listening to you. Who are you, anyway?) “As you know, I was laid off from that big mortgage bank awhile back, and when the bank started having trouble I started paying really close attention to the financial blogs. I’ve been reading them for awhile…”
Establish the credibility of your sources. “… and I’ve been starting to see some news leak into the mainstream financial press, such as Yahoo Finance…” (This is true.)
Rule 2: KISS…
Explain the problem. Keep it simple and keep your language sane.
“A lot of credible sources are saying that there may be rapid inflation starting this fall. Nobody knows for sure, but it could be a little or it could be very high.It might take $100 just buy a loaf of bread. There are also rumors of a possible bank holiday this fall. The phrase ‘bank holiday’ is really a misnomer. It’s when they close the banks for a few days or a few weeks, and you can’t withdraw cash to buy food and pay bills. They might do it if they needed to fix a problem with the banking system. This is harder to confirm than the inflation, but I think it’s wise to prepare for the possibility.”
Let’s analyze the above paragraph using our KISS rule.
I kept it to two main points. There are a million things to prepare for; you need to decide what the most convincing, urgent, easily-prepped-for problem is and stick to it. I chose economic collapse because it’s in the news right now, and it gets people’s attention.
I kept my language approachable, and when there was a new term I explained it simply. I didn’t mention any off-the-wall theories or rants about the Federal Reserve. The bank holiday is a rumor but well within the realm of possibility; but I emphasize that the inflation is NOT a rumor. It is a credible possibility being discussed in mainstream financial publications.
I didn’t just say “There’s going to be an economic collapse.” I gave them a concrete example (the $100 bread loaf) that would relate to their lives. And speaking of relating it to their lives…
Rule 3: RELATE…
Suggest some ways to prepare. “There are things you can do to prepare for this, Aunt Bea, and it doesn’t have to be really complicated. You can take some money out of the bank, and that’s good to have on hand anyway in case of emergencies like earthquakes. I recommend keeping about a month’s worth of cash on hand, if you can. You can also buy some of those old quarters and dimes… you know, from before 1965, when they used to make them out of silver. [Take a little time here to explain why junk silver is good in times of inflation. Rawles has some great articles. Also explain that it can be purchased at local coin shops, and explain the current cost.] And of course, since food will get more expensive later, it might not hurt to buy a little extra food now.”
Take a moment to consider: Why would you start by talking about cash, then talk about silver, then talk about food?
First of all, these are all simple, non-threatening recommendations that anyone can follow. You want to start with the easiest step and go from there. Let’s go back to our three rules:
Start slow by talking about the cash first, because everyone knows how to get money from the bank.
Talk about silver next, because you can emphasize that they can keep it simple and spend just a few dollars, if they want. (In other words, right now they can buy one silver dime for about $1.50.) If you explain it well, this idea is unthreatening and easy to do. It’s also “more sane” than telling them to buy gold because many people are familiar with the old silver coins.
Mention the food last because to some people in your audience, stocking up on food immediately rings the “crazy survivalist” bell. It’s good to put it in context of a wise financial decision related to the other steps they’re taking.
Ask them to talk to their family. This relates the whole conversation back to their lives. It makes them feel less alone, and it impresses on them that we’re all in this together, etc. It’s also the charitable thing to do. The more people that prepare, the better. I have also used this moment to ask them to help me persuade others (my mom, my grandparents, etc) since two voices are more credible than one.
Thank them. This lightens up the conversation and makes it sane. “Thanks for listening to me about this. I’m sorry to bring up all this gloom and doom. I just really care about you guys.”
Continue the conversation according to your audience. Tailor your spiel to the person you’re talking to. Think back to the three rules that I mentioned earlier (slow; KISS; relate). Below are profiles of three of my favorite aunties. How would you apply those rules to your conversation with them?
Auntie A is threatened by the idea of prepping. She will barely talk about it.
Auntie B says she has a gun, and she also says she wants to start a garden.
Auntie C lives in a big, dangerous city and she will not move (cannot afford to and has lived there all her life). However, she is otherwise on board and even excited that someone finally mentioned it, and she’d like to read some online articles. She’s worried about her antiques business in this economy.
Take a moment to think about your approach, and then read on to learn how I approached each of my aunties.
With Auntie A, I took it slow. I will be lucky if she will buy a week’s worth of spaghetti; I didn’t push her any further than the script above. I moved on to talk about the weather or whatever. I can always talk to her about it again later.
With Auntie B, I followed the KISS rule. I suggested getting a little extra ammo for her gun and enough seeds for her garden. These are simple things that she can do tomorrow, and they’re not that scary. I did not say outright that ammo and seeds will be unavailable after the collapse, because that sounds insane.
With Auntie C, I related it back to her life. Since she’s web-savvy, I pointed her to a web site that discusses prepping to live in the city during an economic collapse (FerFAL’s web site). (To “keep it sane” I mentioned that his site is “geared toward American survivalists” and “I don’t like reading it because it’s scary” but “if you can get past all that, it’s worth looking at.”) Because she mentioned that her antiques business will probably not prosper, I also pointed her to posts about how people make money in the city in hard times
This can be the only conversation you have with your loved ones, or it can be the first in a series. However you approach it, remember these proverbs:
“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” and, “A prophet has no honor in his own country.”
In other words, no matter how simply and gently you explain the coming collapse, there will be some that prepare and some that won’t. You don’t have any control over that. Your only duty is to try to gently persuade them in a way that they can understand.
Final quiz: What are the three basic rules of persuasion?
The Memsahib Adds: Before approaching a relative or friend with the topic of preparedness, consider: Is there some aspect of prepping that would fulfill one of their long-held desires, or perhaps even a childhood fantasy? Have they always wanted to own a horse? Be a master chef? Live like a Native American? Live off the land like a Mountain Man? Be a doctor? Be an herbal medicinalist? Be an explorer? Be a teacher? Own a large acreage? Be a park ranger? Sail the seven seas? Be a philanthropist? Be a missionary? There are aspects of preparedness that can fit into all of these desires. So, in effect, you can make prepping fun and fulfilling for them. When I was growing up, I always loved baby lambs and wanted to own sheep. I was also disappointed that I didn’t grow up on a farm, as my mother had. (I was raised in the suburbs.) Our path to preparedness was a great excuse to buy some acreage, and raise a flock of sheep. This led to buying spinning wheels and a loom, learning how to card, spin and dye wool, learning how to knit, how to felt wool, raising angora rabbits, and raising angora goats. This in turn eventually led to us getting dairy goats, and later a dairy cow. So all of this fulfilled a childhood fantasy of having my own farm. Thus, prepping felt rewarding, and in no way did I feel threatened or did it seem like I was living under a dark storm cloud. When I served my first loaf of bread that I had made with eggs from my chickens, and wheat that I had sown and later hand-ground, the rooster in our barnyard couldn’t crow any louder than I could! My grandmother would have been proud of me. Talk about heavy gravitas, when bringing such loaves to a church potluck! (But even just brining muffins with berries that you grew yourself, or picked out in the wild can give the same sense of accomplishment.) It was much the same for me when I finished making my first sweater with wool from sheep that I had helped deliver. I had shorn the wool, carded it, dyed it, spun it and knitted it–bringing the sweater all to its final form. What a lot of work, but what great fun!
My favorite way to introduce this topic to other women is through teaching “heritage crafts”. The homemaking skills of our pioneer ancestors are something that most women–even city women–can relate to. Whether it is canning, gardening, small livestock, sewing, cooking, baking, knitting, leather-working, candle making, soap-making , et cetera. I have done all of these, and and have enjoyed passing on these skills to neighbors, friends, and even my nieces and nephews. Perhaps your local church, 4H club, scout troop, PTA, homeschooling club, or public school would be open to having you teach a class or put on a demonstration.
I found that the more I learned about one preparedness topic, the more that I wanted to learn about related topics. For example, when I was raising rabbits, it was fun learning how many different ways I could prepare rabbit meat dishes. And when I was dairying, it was fun to branch out into making yogurt, soft cheese, and milk soap. With God’s providential guiding hand, your friends will each find a special preparedness niche, that will benefit their families, and in turn get them excited about many more aspects of preparedness.
A note to husbands, fathers, brothers, and uncles: Please do not alienate your female friends and relatives from preparedness by “assigning” them a prepping specialty. Instead, let them pick their own, to suit their particular disposition and interests. By letting women choose our own areas of expertise, it gives us the feeling of being in control of our lives in an uncertain world. Encourage and nurture their interests, but don’t dictate them!
Part of getting prepared is recognizing the fact that some aspects of preparedness are more “fun” than others. And, correspondingly, what constitutes “fun” for one individual is not necessarily considered fun by another. How many men wouldn’t blink an eye at buying a $700 SIG or a $1,500 FAL, but get anxious about “the expense” when they see their wives looking through a Louet or LeClerc catalog? What is needed is a well-rounded approach to gathering logistics, tools, and skills. There is much more to preparedness than just “guns and groceries.” Get prepared, but don’t obsess over all the gloom-n-doom “what ifs?” You should instead take a well-rounded approach that will provide a family with educational activities and lots of fun, all while actively learning, preparing, and cross-training. One way to ease your spouse into a preparedness mindset is by encouraging her to get involved with a the local fiber guild, 4H club, or farmer’s market co-op.
Tall Sally is absolutely right about going slowly. Get your friends and relatives into preparedness one small step at a time. Encourage them to get prepared, by playing off of their pre-existing interests, fantasies, and hobbies.