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How To Change People’s Mind: Show Them The Whole Picture Instead Of Proving Them Wrong

Human has the ability to think and that’s what makes our world creative. But owing to such diversified thinking, sometimes it is inevitable for us to come across with disagreement.

It can be great or small, such as colleagues debating corporate strategy, family members discussing holiday destination, or friends arguing what to eat for dinner. Sometimes you win an argument but sometimes you don’t.

Despite the fact that disagreement happens from time to time, it is important for us to learn the art of persuasion because if we are unable to persuade, we can only be the influenced but not the influencer. Sometimes we need to compromise but sometimes we need to be recognized. If our ideas are constantly rejected, then things never happen as we wish.

Why we always fail to persuade?

It can be frustrating if our ideas are better but they are not adopted just because we lack the skills to persuade. But many of us make this mistake unknowingly–When we argue or discuss with others over an issue, we tend to take the shortcut to prove them wrong logically and at the same time we are right. This might work occasionally, for those who are rational and less emotional. But apparently not everyone is rational, at least not always.

Even if we have convincing arguments, proving others wrong is kind of explicitly telling others to change their minds. This often put them in an embarrassing situation because they have to admit that they are wrong.

The backfire effect: corrections always fail

It is compatible with the backfire effect suggested by Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler at The University of Michigan and Georgia State University. [1] One of their research was designed to explore why people insist on their political misperceptions when others try to correct them.

It shows that corrections actually enhance misperceptions among the group in question. In other words, corrections have no use. People who are being corrected in fact reject the ideas from those who hold different beliefs.

Persuade by showing the whole picture

Knowing that changing people’s minds is such a difficult work, we might want to try something suggested by the authority. Blaise Pascal, a 17th-century French philosopher, wrote the famous classic Persuasion long before psychology was invented. His idea is later proven by modern psychologists, Arthur Markman.Pascal suggested that the surefire way to change others’ minds is to show them the whole picture instead of proving them wrong as the two simple steps listed below:

  1. Acknowledge the validity of the other’s point of view
  2. Lead them to discover the other side of their argument

There should be something valuable in everyone’s point of view. So first you should recognize their contributions and admit what they are right about. Then, you should gradually reveal the other side to them, which is the part they have not observed. The following scenario might help you better understand the idea:

Imagine you are thinking what to eat for dinner with your friends.A: I’d like some burgers. I’m starving.(But you want something else.)You: Well…  Burger might be good. What about pizza? It can also make you feel full. Plus you might have more options in the Italian restaurant.

After all, everyone has some blind spots and many people realize that. They won’t be offended by such persuasion approach because they feel like they only fail to see all sides instead of mistaking. Also, people are generally better persuaded by reasons they discover by themselves than by those implemented by others.

Give suggestions instead of commands

Such approach also allows you to better hide your intention to persuade. That’s why you should also pay attention to your tone when speaking to them. You need to play the role of a guide instead of an instructor. You should be guiding them instead of enforcing authority, raising questions instead of making judgements. Others will feel better and consider what you want them to think about if you sound more friendly and suggestive.

A successful persuasion cannot be achieved only by strong and valid points. To make people let their guard down, you also need some techniques. So don’t let others bury your brilliant ideas. Be brave to speak them up and be smart to showcase them.

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