Summary - Smart people tend to easily accept data that proves their preconceived beliefs, while they search for faults in data that goes against their ingrained beliefs. So how then do you get people to change their mind?
1. Take the right angle with your criticism.
- Don't tell a parent who believes vaccines cause autism that there is proof that it doesn't. They will simply come up with arguments as to why the data you presented to them is flawed.
- Instead, ignore that argument all together and focus on something you will agree with. For instance, we both care about the health of our children. Now, isn't it great that we wiped out diseases from polio to chickenpox? Modern medicine is a marvel and can and should be used to help our children be healthier.
2. Connect emotionally with your audience.
- Take Away - Don’t start with how they’re wrong, start with common ground. (You may disagree with me on this but we both want to get better at persuasion, don’t we?)
- Tell a joke and laugh together. Tell an exciting story and rejoice together. Tell a sad story and be gloomy together. In order to get people on your side you have to connect emotionally. It is a phenomenon called neural synchronization.
3. Create and make clear the positive rewards as a result of changing the behavior.
- Take Away - Make them feel and get your brains in sync. (Look! Smiling puppies!)
- People make changes to behavior when they think it will bring exciting positive rewards.
- If you incentivize people by promising pleasurable rewards, as opposed to painful negative consequences, people are more likely to change their behavior.
- Hospital workers only thoroughly wash their hands 10% of the time. When a hospital created a rewards system for washing hands thoroughly, compliance went up to 90%!
- BUT - if you want someone to STOP doing a behavior, warning of bad consequences is more effective than positive rewards.
4. Give your audience the perception of control.
- Take Away - Focus on rewards, not warnings. (Incentives will get you what you want, I promise.)
This is an FBI interrogation technique. When you give your target choices, they think they are in control and will be more open and more freely talk than if you simply demand they answer questions.
- When people feel they have control over a situation, they are more likely to follow through on a behavior.
- People who were given control over where their taxes went to were more likely to pay their taxes in full and on time than people who paid the same amount of taxes but had no say in their allocation.
- Cancer patients who believed they had control over their treatment lived longer than patients who believed they had no control.
5. Make people curious.
- Take Away - Give options, not orders. (Would you like to offer them two possibilities or three? Totally up to you.)
- Create an information gap in a person's mind. When they find out there is information they don't know, they are eager to fill the information gap. Clickbait headlines use this technique constantly. 'Ten Celebrities You Didn't Know Were Childless' - you never wanted to know this information, but now you know there is information you don't know, you want to know.
6. Negate scary consequences by creating positive outcomes.
- Take Away - “Fill the gap” and focus on the positive. (The headline of this blog post was not chosen at random, my friend.)
7. Understand your target's current state of mind.
- When people are to take a test to detect HIV, cancer, etc, they will find any means possible to avoid taking the test if they think they might have a chance of having it. Therefore, you must figure out a way to ignore the possible negative outcomes and focus on possible positive ones.
- Take the test for HIV, cancer, etc, so you can live a free happy life. As opposed to, take the test to find out if you are dying.
- If your target is in a bad or negative mood, they are much more willing to take in negative information. If your target is in a good mood, they will ignore bad information and only take in good information. Understanding the current mood of your target will push you in the proper direction in order to influence their behavior.
- With the same approach your target may ignore you one day and take your advice the next depending on if their favorite sports team won the game last night. But if you know the mood of your target you can present your advice to match their mood and they will more likely listen to you.
- When we are thinking negative we are much more susceptible to negative information. To prove this point, take the losing NFL team... It was proven that when a team was losing they tended to play it safe in order to minimize the damage. However, those teams never won. The teams that did the exact opposite by taking more chances, risking a greater loss, won dramatically more often
8. Use the power of other people.
- Take Away - If they’re feeling down, present the conservative option. If they’re feeling good, focus on the riskier upside. (Before I explain this further, how are you feeling today?)
- People will 'go with the flow' most times. When patients in need of kidney transplants were presented with a kidney that was previously denied by another patient, they too denied it, even though the first patient may have simply denied it because of religious beliefs.
- The flip side is also true. When people think something is popular they will also like it because they think other people do. For instance, you are more likely to like a post on Facebook if it already has hundreds of likes.
- Take Away - Showing the popularity of your position helps. (Every smart person I know follows this rule.)