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Each person has the ability to think in an advanced and different way from earth’s other living creatures, and that is what makes our world a place full of creativity and progress. However, the intellectual openness we have causes each of us to have different opinions, which inevitably leads to misunderstandings and disagreements between people. This situation often leads to the development of arguments and conflicts in a variety of areas, whether it is strategies for action at work or planning a family vacation with a spouse.
Of course, each of us should try to see the other side's logic, but if you are confident in your position, you should not try to aggressively convince the other side by yelling. Instead, you should learn how to become the type of person who knows how to explain their thoughts in a way that you’ll get the other side to see the full picture and understand you. In the next article, you’ll learn how to become verbal persuaders.
Why is it so difficult to get others to accept our opinion?
The ideas you raise during discussions may be very good, but because you lack persuasion skills you may not be able to convey them in a way that will get others to agree with you. Most of us lack this ability, and as a result, many discussions can turn into arguments in a matter of minutes. When this happens, we and the person in front of us become defensive and try to take shortcuts to prove that the other's opinion is wrong, and at the same time to show that we are right.
Sometimes it works, as long as the argument is not too loaded and is being conducted with someone who doesn’t allow his or her feelings to get in the way of common sense, but usually, such an attempt fails. Even if your argument sounds convincing, the moment you try to prove that the person's argument is wrong, you’re forcing them to change their mind by embarrassing them and making them admit they are wrong, something which not everyone can easily do.
The Boomerang Effect: Correcting mistakes almost always leads to failure in the attempt at persuasion
The argument presented in the previous section is scientifically proven in a study conducted jointly by Michigan and Georgia Universities in the United States. The study is designed to examine why people insist on keeping their political opinions even when others try to show them that they are wrong.
The results of the study showed that trying to correct another person's mental error only increases the ambiguity about the truth in his head. In other words, trying to change one's mind by presenting his own mental error is useless. People who are "corrected" in their opinion more forcefully reject ideas that come from beliefs that are different from their own.
How to convince people by showing them the full picture
Now that we know that trying to change others' minds is a more difficult task than we thought, we may be advised to follow a slightly different and even ancient method. Blaise Pascal, a 17th Century philosopher, wrote the famous article "On the Art of Persuasion" even before the field of psychology was invented.
Years later, his idea was proven by psychologist Arthur Markman, and according to him, there is a foolproof way to convince the person in front of us to see the full picture instead of trying to prove them wrong. This is done in 2 simple steps:
1. Recognizing the validity of the person's point of view.
2. Leading the person opposite us to discover the other side of his argument.
These steps are based on the fact that each person's opinion has value, so we must first identify the validity of the point of view we oppose and admit that there is some truth in it. We then have to reveal the other side of the argument in a gradual manner, that is to show the person opposite us the facts were ignored in their argument.. The following example will help you understand the idea:
Imagine that you are discussing the dinner menu with your spouse. Your spouse says they want to eat a hamburger, but you want pizza. You should respond with the sentence, "Burgers are a good idea, but what about pizza? Pizza is also really filling and Italian restaurants have much healthier options for the kids, no?.”
Such an approach will not offend the other by dismissing their opinion outright because it will show them another side of their argument - Hamburger is a choice that reduces the possibilities, but if you choose pizza you can go to a restaurant where you can find many other equally good and healthy dishes, So no one will be disappointed.. It makes the person in front of you realize that they have not seen the full picture, instead of emphasizing their wrong judgment.
In addition, it is important to know that persuasion attempts usually work better if the other person understands the reasons for their change of mind than if we were to impose it. In the current case, for example, we might say, "Maybe we should eat something healthier with our children?" This will cause the spouse to reconsider their decision and open up to other possibilities.
Give suggestions instead of commands
This approach to resolving disagreements can also help you hide your intentions in order to persuade, so you must pay attention to your tone of voice. You have to play the role of a guide rather than a commander, that is, you have to guide the other person to the thought you want to create in their head instead of commanding them to accept it. Do this by asking questions rather than using judgey arguments. In such a situation, the person in front of you will feel more comfortable considering your opinion and will usually want to hear it, especially since the lack of aggression will cause them not to have to try to defend themselves.
A successful persuasion attempt won’t be achieved only by raising an argument of some validity. To prevent others from becoming defensive during a discussion, you should use a technique that encourages collaboration rather than trying to satisfy only yourself. Do not pre-empt the ideas of the person in front of you, but if you see an error in their way of thinking, bring it up and change their mind wisely - this is the only way to avoid unnecessary conflicts.