Often people dogmatically cling to the way they see the world, rejecting other methods or truths that don’t support how they want to see things. Today we are covering how you can convince anyone to accept your idea or point of view. There is a specific pattern you can follow. But there must be one psychological building block present for anyone to change their mind and accept your ideas.
When trying to really change someone’s perspective, you need to have a long horizon. This means you need to play the long game. Don’t rush in and try to force your ideas down their throat. Instead, begin laying the breadcrumbs of persuasion. The first breadcrumb to persuasion is establishing a problem.
This isn’t the typical problem you hear sales people talk about. We aren’t talking about convincing a person their mortgage rate is too high. We aren’t scaring people with an apocalypse to get them to buy food storage.
Establishing a problem in this context refers to convincing a person that their current beliefs and ideas could be wrong. You need to first persuade them that they can’t be one hundred percent sure. If a person believes they are capable of error, they will be more open to persuasion. If you are trying to persuade someone to accept your point of view, first ask yourself if the person believes their brain, senses, and other facilities are fallible. In other words, are they humble? Without some level of humility, it is extremely difficult to persuade. This is the most important building block of persuasion.
Here is how you create humility in someone who is stubborn or closed off to new ideas.
Dunning Kruger teaches us that incompetent people often can’t recognize their own incompetence. In a way, humans are confident in their conclusions because of how little they know. To create humility, you need to persuade a person that they are fallible.
First, you need to give the person a selfish reason to disbelieve their senses. Find these selfish reasons by looking inward. What do you think are the costs for dogmatism? Look outward. What are the costs to this person for rejecting new ideas? What do they want that they aren’t able to get because they are closed minded?
Next, begin to pry their minds open with these persuasive tricks. For those who are stubborn, you need to use other tricks. First, let them hear their arguments coming from another person’s mouth. When someone says something out loud, they often think less critically about it. If they hear you restate what they said, they reconsider. This works really well when someone says something ridiculous. Pause, restate it, and stop talking.
Another trick that works well with stubborn people is to point out contradictions. If you can explain how one pattern of thinking in one area doesn’t carry over to another, it will challenge that pattern. For example maybe they believe in supporting one group even if they don’t agree with all of its arguments, but they wouldn’t support another group in the same way. Often contrast is all people need to realize they are being inconsistent. Try pointing out things they don’t understand, don’t realize, or don’t remember. This teaches them that they don’t have a perfect way of approaching the world.
Often people think they know how something works on the outside, but they can’t explain the details. By asking why and how a bunch, you can illustrate to them that they are ignorant. The famous example of this is asking people to explain in detail how a toilet works. Most people can get the basics, but it is rare that people can explain all the levers and parts off the top of their heads.
Once you have used one of these techniques to open their minds, start sharing all the ways the brain and senses aren’t perfect. Tell them how the eyes have blind spots that get filled in by the brain. Tell them how the brain sometimes fills in gaps in memory by creating things. Explain how cognitive biases haunt decision making. Read more about the problems with the brain and senses here. Don’t push to do this in one conversation, plan on doing it over the course of months. Slowly they will open up.
Finally, use their conscientiousness against them. Successful people tend to be conscientious. This is at least partially because high level competition requires hard work, goal setting, consistency, and industriousness. Get people to take a small step in the direction you want them to under the guise of trying it out.
Another trick is to use the person’s desire to remain consistent with other things they have said, done, or believed in the past. Study their identity and beliefs. Is there a way you can tie your argument to something the person already thinks?
Many of these techniques draw upon various scientific studies and Socratic techniques. See this article to learn more about questions and persuasion, or this article to learn more about one of the best books on conversational persuasion you can read.