How to (Actually) Change Someone’s Mind - Deepstash

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Changing People's Minds

Changing People's Minds

Leadership, by its very nature, involves walking the tightrope, trying to navigate the complex relationships we have with our clients, colleagues and bosses.

Business decisions made by leaders often require buy-in from people who do not think as we do, and are not our natural supporters. There are certain persuasion strategies we can use to overcome this challenge.

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The Three Persuasion Strategies

Three basic strategies have been devised after studying 60 business leaders handling a variety of disagreements at the workplace:

  1. Cognitive Conversation Approach: Best for convincing those focused on the rational reasons for taking a decision.
  2. Champion Conversation Approach: Used for convincing colleagues with whom we are not cordial.
  3. Credible Colleague Approach: Best for convincing someone who already thinks we are unlikely to be successful by ourselves.

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Changing People’s Minds: Cognitive Conversation Approach

When the opposition is logical and the detractor has many rational and practical counterarguments, one has to go for a cognitive conversation.

  • One needs sound, logical arguments while making a good presentation, just like a lawyer.
  • One has to set aside any emotion and use pure reasoning.
  • It helps to make the other person believe that both parties are on common ground.

The Flip Side: Don’t expect long-term conversion or everlasting support.

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Changing People’s Minds: Champion Conversation Approach

Engaging in a rational debate is useless when the detractor isn’t really a fan and harbours a grievance already.

  • One has to avoid jumping into a debate with this kind of person and focus on learning about them and building rapport.
  • Slowly understand their perspective and try to convert them into your champion or advocate, by becoming their fan.
  • Let the relationship take care of the decision.

The Flip Side: One cannot rely on building a relationship to convince others if the decision does not have merit.

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Changing People’s Minds: Credible Colleague Approach

The detractor can be wholeheartedly opposed to your proposal, even believing that it may cause harm. This makes it impossible for them to agree with you.

  • One can try to break the ice in this situation by bringing in a credible colleague, preferably a supervisor or manager.
  • This can tilt the scale in your favour and help you open up the deadlock.
  • You can then push your proposal up for approval, provided you can convince the external supporter.

The Flip Side: If the detractor feels the decision has been imposed on them by tact or authority, they may feel cheated.

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