The Art of Persuasion: How to Successfully Change Minds
Human beings are gifted with the ability to think, which enables us to come up with brilliant ideas and creative solutions. However, with different perspectives and opinions, disagreements are inevitable. Whether it’s a debate with colleagues on corporate strategy, family discussions on holiday destinations, or even just friends arguing over what to eat for dinner, sometimes we win an argument, and sometimes we don’t.
However, convincing others to accept our ideas can be challenging. If we cannot persuade them, we remain the influenced rather than the influencer. While compromising is sometimes necessary, being constantly rejected can result in our ideas never coming to fruition. Therefore, it is crucial that we learn the art of persuasion.
Unfortunately, many of us often fall short when it comes to persuading others. During an argument or discussion, we tend to take the shortcut of proving our point logically while simultaneously proving others wrong without acknowledging their viewpoint. While this may occasionally work for individuals who are less emotional and more rational, it won’t always work for everyone. Additionally, even if we have a convincing argument, explicitly telling others they are wrong can put them in an embarrassing situation, which they may not accept.
Moreover, according to Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler’s research at The University of Michigan and Georgia State University, corrections can sometimes enhance misperceptions among the group in question. Hence, in many cases, changing people’s minds can be extremely challenging. Therefore, persuading people by showing them the whole picture can be a fairly successful technique.
Blaise Pascal, a 17th-century French philosopher, wrote the famous classic Persuasion long before psychology was invented. Pascal’s idea is later proven by modern psychologists, Arthur Markman, who suggests that the most effective way to change others’ minds is to show them the whole picture, instead of proving them wrong. The two simple steps you should follow while persuading others are:
1. Acknowledge the validity of the other’s point of view.
2. Lead them to discover the other side of their argument.
It is vital to recognize everyone’s contributions and admit what they are right about. Gradually revealing the other side of the argument that they may not have considered before is the next step. For example, when deciding on what to eat for dinner with your friends, if you disagree with the burger suggestion, you can say, “Well, burgers could be a good option, but have you considered pizza? It can make you feel full, and you might have more variety in an Italian restaurant.”
In this way, others won’t be offended by such persuasion approach as they feel like they only fail to see all perspectives instead of mistaking. People are generally better persuaded by reasoning they discover themselves rather than those imposed upon them by others.
Furthermore, it is also essential to give suggestions instead of commands. This approach allows you to hide your intention to persuade. You must play the role of a guide and not an instructor. Guide them with questions instead of making judgments. Others will feel more comfortable and consider what you want them to think about if you sound more friendly and suggestive.
Finally, a successful persuasion must not solely depend on strong and valid points. To make people comfortable enough to let their guard down, certain techniques must also be deployed. Therefore, don’t let others bury your brilliant ideas. Be brave enough to speak your mind while being smart in showcasing them.
In conclusion, persuasive skills are essential for every individual, whether in personal or professional life. Knowing how to persuade others without offending them requires a certain level of emotional intelligence and effective communication skills. It is important to note that persuading others doesn’t necessarily mean proving them wrong. Showing them the whole picture while acknowledging their viewpoint and being suggestive instead of commanding can help change people’s minds most effectively.