Mastering The Art of Changing People’s Mind

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Often in business, both internally and externally, there are opposing views. This could be down to many reasons such as values, ideology, religion, political, historical or learned beliefs, as well as many others. It’s human nature to have differing opinions so this should not be considered a negative.

If we all agreed with each other, business negotiations and sales success would be easy. Although if that was the case, losing business would also be easy as the next person who steps through the customer’s door would persuade that customer to switch to their side.

The human mind is not programmed to accept a change of opinion, as this effectively gives an admission that the person who changed their mind was wrong. And we humans do not like to admit we are wrong as you can see in today’s world of divisive cultural echo chambers on social and mainstream media.

How To Change An Opposing View

When we enter negotiations with colleagues or customers with opposing views, our instinct is to go straight to data and prove that we are right. After all, if data backs up your argument, how can the person on the other side of the table oppose you?

Unfortunately that is not how the human brain is wired. The emotional brain overrides the logical brain in almost all negotiations. So the key to a successful negotiation to change an opposing opinion is to show compassion and understanding of the opposer. To befriend them and bring them close to you emotionally.

You have to see the world through the other person’s perspective. And you must remain humble and open in all discussions. That is not only in your words. It is as much within your demeanour, your attitude and how you hold yourself.

Do not forget we humans have a sixth sense. You might believe your words are saying one thing, but if your demeanour and attitude shows another, that’s what the person on the other side of the table will see and feel. Your words therefore will have zero impact and not be believed.

A Historical Story Proving This Point

Ignaz Semmelweiss was a Hungarian obstetrician who in 1847 noticed a dramatically high maternal mortality rate from puerperal fever following births assisted by doctors and medical students. However, those attended by midwives were relatively safe. 

After further investigation he discovered that the attending doctors and medical students often came directly from autopsies. This led him to assert that puerperal fever was a contagious disease with matter from autopsies being transferred to the pregnant women.

Semmelweis inisted doctors wash their hands in chlorinated lime water before examining pregnant women, and documented a reduction in mortality rate from 18% down to 2%.

Despite these astounding results, his theories were rejected by most of the contemporary medical establishment.

This was 15 years before Louis Pasteur published his paper on germ theory. 

Why Was Semmelweis Unable to Change the Minds of the Medical Establishment?

To put it bluntly and in modern language, he was a bit of a prick! He was confrontational, combative and just not a very nice guy at all.

He was disrespectful to anybody who would not understand or listen to his theories, and openly called these doctors “baby murderers”. He did nothing to befriend his opposers, and nothing to try to bring them onto his side.

Human nature within the doctors rebelled against the contempt Semmelweis had for them. Which led to many more unnecessary deaths and an almost 20 year delay in germ theory becoming an adopted practice.

Conclusion

If you want to master the art of negotiations and changing people’s minds, you first need to understand how the human mind ticks.

  • We like to believe we are logical, but mostly the emotional brain overrides this logic.
  • Do not be combative or confrontational.
  • Be patient and befriend your opposer. This can be done away from the topic at hand.
  • Practise your approach and be 100% sure you have considered your opposing counterparts view.
  • Touch the emotional side of your opposer by relating your point to something unobjectionable.
  • Do not force your opponent into a position they will not move from.
  • Do not preach. Stay open. Remain humble. Keep patient.

Resources

In The Jordan Harbinger Show episode 946, Jordan talks to Michael McQueen, author of Mindstuck: Mastering The Art Of Changing Minds, to discuss the importance of not defining ourselves by our opinions, the effects of rationalising our existing beliefs, the power of our expectations and perceptions, and how we can apply the timeless concepts of persuasion to gently nudge others (as well as ourselves) toward a meeting in the middle. 

Dig into another fascinating informative discussion to learn more about yourself and others, and to find methods to gain advantages in your business negotiations.

Live smarter, live stronger, live longer!

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