What to do if you want to convince a person

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Grandmother does not want to be vaccinated because she believes in chipping and a global conspiracy. Your child’s teacher complains about today’s children and is going to ban phones. And a colleague suddenly refuses to perform an important task, because “now Mercury is retrograde “. And now you already feel a powerful desire to prove to them all that they are wrong.

But psychologist Adam Grant believes that it is necessary to act differently.

Adam Grant

Psychologist, journalist, author of books.

When we want to convince someone, our first impulse is to tell why we are right and to rebuke the opponent for mistakes. However, experiments show that preaching and persecution can backfire and only strengthen the interlocutor’s beliefs.

Think it’s worth arguing at all

Before you take out your knives, check: are you sure you have up-to-date and expert information that you can refer to? Are there any weaknesses in your judgment? When you operate with unverified information, there is a danger of looking like a flat earther or Devil’s advocate. In this case, it is hardly worth starting a dispute.

Second point: remember that the process of persuasion is likely to take time and nerves. Consultant psychologist Holly Wicks advises to soberly assess your strengths. Do you have a physical, mental and emotional opportunity to discuss right now? And who are you related to the person you want to argue with? Is it really that important to you to convince him?

If, for example, we are talking about a grandmother at the entrance, who complains about today’s youth, this is hardly the case when it is worth investing in a conversation. It is quite another matter if the beliefs of your loved one can harm him or someone else. For example, he believes that cancer can be cured with baking soda and meditation.

Try to understand your opponent

Get rid of the internal installation that your interlocutor is a narrow-minded sheep. Most likely, he does not hear you, not because he cannot understand the essence of your arguments , but because … he is afraid.

The researchers concluded that people have a poor perception of facts that threaten their identity, that is, ideas about themselves and connections with certain groups (vegans, meat eaters, feminists, prolifers , and so on).

When a person shares the opinion of the community (for example, “you can’t have an abortion”), this strengthens his group identity and at the same time puts him in opposition to ideological opponents. But any deviation from the course, according to experts , makes him vulnerable and makes him anxious.

David Ropeik

Risk perception expert, author of books.

We are social animals, instinctively relying on “the tribe” for security. Therefore, any disloyalty seems dangerous: the “tribe” can kick us out.

But even if a person is not afraid of being excluded from some community, he can still experience discomfort. Psychologist Clifford Lazarus explains this phenomenon as cognitive dissonance. When a person learns some information that does not correspond to the one that he already possesses, this creates a contradiction in his mind.

The first reaction in this situation is protection. In some cases, it can manifest itself in the form of a retroactive effect , when, instead of accepting all your harmonious evidence, the person is even more closed in his truth . This is because he is trying to regain his inner harmony.

In general, instead of starting your ideological expansion with a thesis that breaks the mold, try to show empathy and prepare the person. Create a comfortable atmosphere for him, make sure that you understand him, do not try to destroy his identity, do not want him to feel weak and insecure.

Ha-ha! What else can you say? That climate change doesn’t exist?

It was hard for me to believe that climate change is real. It seemed to me that this was some new government ploy or marketing ploy.

Speak calmly and respectfully

Respectfully means not belittling the opponent and his views, showing empathy (we return to the previous advice).

In addition, it is not only what you say that matters, but also how you do it. Do not use an aggressive tone and raise your voice. Scientists have found that our brain perceives screaming as a potential threat. When a person hears a loud unpleasant sound, they may feel fear , which motivates them to simply “run away” from the source of danger.

What vegans think about Y is stupid!

I know that vegans have this opinion about issue X. Unfortunately, I don’t understand very well what they think about issue Y.

Use the Pascal Method

The bottom line is to confirm the correctness of the interlocutor in some aspect with which you are in solidarity, and then point out the problem areas of the judgment. So the opponent will get the impression that he was initially right, he simply could not consider all sides of the issue.

We will not spend money on this prefix.

I understand why you want to buy this console. It’s awesome and much better than the one you have! I also understand that if we spend money on it, we will have to postpone the trip that we have been planning for so long.

Ask the person to describe their ideal solution to the problem.

Instead of asking why your opponent prefers option X over Y, it’s better to find out how they think they can solve problem Z. This is the conclusion of a group of researchers in the US.

They asked people to describe their ideal taxation system. When the participants started to reason, they realized the complexity of the problem and noticed gaps in their own knowledge.

A similar experiment was conducted by psychologist Adam Grant. In an article in The New York Times, he described how he tried to convince his friend to get the COVID‑19 vaccine .

Adam Grant

Instead of asking R. why he is against the vaccine, I asked him how he can stop the pandemic. And it worked!

Why are you against using recycled plastic?

How can we, in your opinion, make production more environmentally friendly?

Try not to use “but”

According to clinical psychologist Susan Heitler, “but” is a sign of subtraction in conversation. It erases what has just been said. Therefore, it is better to use other wordings: “at the same time”, “also”, “at the same time”.

Susan Heitler

Clinical psychologist, author of books.

Try to fix every time you say the word “but”. If this happens often, you may not be building a constructive dialogue, but simply negating what the other person is saying. So you will argue ad infinitum.

I understand that it is important for you to develop in another area. But now our company will not be able to meet your needs.

I understand that it is important for you to work with more complex and interesting tasks. At the same time, I understand that our company cannot meet your needs right now.

Give specific examples

Psychologist Holly Wicks assures that when you refer to real situations or detail fictional ones, this makes your reasoning more clear and accurate, and the interlocutor perceives information more easily.

Holly Wicks

Psychologist-consultant, author of books.

Clarity, neutral tone, and restraint are the building blocks of all types of effective communication. “Clarity” means that the words must fulfill their immediate function. Avoid euphemisms, generalizations and vague phrases, clearly and directly state what situation you mean. If a person understands the content of the message, it is easier for him to comprehend the information. And later it is easier to agree with you.

Requests from our team, as always, are ignored!

When we had a presentation last month on a tight schedule, we could get an extra person to do part of the research, which would save us a day.

Do not try to change the whole picture of the world in one conversation

Entrepreneur and journalist Shane Snow in her book Dream Teams. A team as a single organism” writes that consistency is needed in a dispute – this is the most important and complex element of a productive discussion. Avoiding answers and changing the topic (even if the other one is also important) will not help in a particular conversation , but will only confuse the opponent.

Remember yourself. What happens when you don’t understand something and can’t grasp the essence? Perhaps at this moment it seems to you that the information that has fallen on you does not line up in a clear picture, and the interlocutor simply leads you by the nose. Do you feel irritated? Fatigue? Reluctance to discuss? Or, on the contrary, do you want to defeat him with your arguments?

Be that as it may, you are unlikely to be convinced. It’s the same with your opponent: the more you deviate from the topic, the more likely you are to get nowhere. Even to what was originally planned. Recall the wonderful Russian proverb: “If you chase two hares, you won’t catch one.”

Feminists are needed. And in general, women are oppressed not only in language. Have you heard of the “glass ceiling”? What about pay gap?

Feminitives are needed in order to make the language more accurate and not misleading. Because, for example, when we say “lawyer”, we most likely represent a man. If we had the word “lawyer”, there would be no such problem.

Remember that a person needs time, and you are not omnipotent

Even if you followed all our advice and you still didn’t succeed, it’s not scary. According to Adam Grant, convincing someone is a difficult task, because its result depends not only on the persuader.

Adam Grant

I realized that I can’t change someone’s mind. All I can do is try to understand the other person’s mindset and ask if they are ready to rethink. The rest depends on him.

Perhaps your opponent just needs time. After all, it is not so easy to change your views .

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