How do you change a person’s mind? How do you persuade someone to do see things your way?
I’m no expert. People don’t listen to everything I say, and that’s a good thing. I don’t have a degree in persuasion (just a B.S. in Psychology). I’m going to tell you about the most important part of persuasion. The time before you try to persuade someone.
Your Not Persuading Yourself
The decision of “I’m going to try to change this person’s mind.” This decision runs through all of your heads, even if you’re not aware of it at the time. There are a lot of assumptions you could be making at this step.
One is that everyone knows and sees everything that you do. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Someone may disagree with how you see the world.
Even though this is going to sound crazy, you could both be right (or wrong). The point is to see things from the other person’s perspective.
What If They’re Right?
On Seth Godin’s blog, he has a post outlining ways to change different people’s minds. There are a lot of different examples. Literally none of them say to argue or debate or ridicule or demean.
But I know that it’s a default reaction for a lot of people. I’ve done it (it didn’t work). If you’re trying to change the mind of a scientist, you need to use something he respects: A well designed and superior experiment.
You can’t use the reasoning, “Because I’m right and you need to see it this way!“. This kind of argument doesn’t work. It never does. Just pay attention the next time someone tries it on you.
They may as well be talking to a wall right? You’ll probably be thinking, “I’m open to possibilities but what they are saying is infuriatingly wrong.” And I doubt you’ll change your mind.
It’s not just about knowing how to persuade someone to do something. You need to know how and why you’re right first.
And you need to know why the other person thinks they are right and why. No one is going to knowingly believe something different and strange. Especially if it’s wrong.
That’s why scientists love science so much. Your experiment can be judged by the person you’re trying to persuade. Leaving them the power to make their own decision. If you’re right, you get to be right until your wrong.
What To Do Before Your Next “Debate”
Before attempting to persuade someone, know you’re right. Know why the other person thinks they are right. And know how to address the issue from where the other person is coming from.
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