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Josh S
  • Josh S
  • Washington, MO
  • United States

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How does one go about changing another person's mind?

Throughout life, you will meet people who don't agree with you, its inevitable. Sometimes it's just a mild disagreement like what flavor of smoothie tastes better to the extremes that were seen in the Cold War. Much more often, verbalization of our disagreements leads to a solution, or at least a resolution to disagree. But other, times it may necessitate force, as seen in WWII.

Because we are on Ted, how do you go about verbally convincing someone to see your point of view? Statistics? Rhetorical questions? What?

I think it'd be interesting to see people's responses, and if you could mention examples of particularly hard people to convince and how you may or may not have convinced them.

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    May 6 2012: Dear Josh,
    It might be helpful to ask ourselves why we want to change another person's mind. Do we think/feel we are "right"? Do we think/feel that we are the only one who has the right answer? Would we like others to believe the same exact things that we believe?

    You are covering a LOT of territory with your question..."Sometimes it's just a mild disagreement like what flavor of smoothie tastes better to the extremes that were seen in the Cold War".

    It's fun to have different perspectives when talking about what flavor of smoothie tastes better. It might be a very uninteresting world if we all liked the same flavor of smoothie! War, on the other hand, is often caused by the violation of human rights, which of course is a very different matter. Then there are all kinds of thoughts, feelings, ideas, opinions and beliefs in between.

    We can all offer information respectfully, and each individual will accept or reject that information. I personally see no reason to try to convince anyone of anything. I respect everyone as contributing, intelligent, insightful adults, and am not attached to the outcome of any conversation.

    I gravitate toward conversations in which people want to build on ideas, rather than try to convince me that they are right. Statistics are important, and providing them once is enough. I'm personally not fond of conversations in which someone insistantly tries to convince me that they are right. That behavior sends the message that I am not intelligent or informed enough to make my own choices and decisions, and they know better than I do what is right for me. I sometimes agree to disagree:>)

    BTW, I have smoothies for breakfast almost every day and use a variety of mixed fruits with various flavors of yogurt. Maybe that reflects what kind of conversations I like:>)
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    May 9 2012: You get what you give.

    If you are flexible in an a conversation, the conversation will mostly be likewise, and will progress into fascinating territory.

    If you make sure to listen to others, they will listen to you.
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    May 6 2012: In one sense you can't, in another, you can't help it. People make decisions based on so many criteria. Some of these are known, while others are very mysterious. Appeals to rationality are fine, but appeals to emotion probably work better. As a teacher, I see that facts without a story are boring. Stories engage learners AND THEY MOTIVATE CHANGE! Education definitely changes minds--but whether it's a change for the better depends on the school. Self-preservation can alter behavior. So can concern for social advancement. Finally, minds can be "changed" through hypnosis, prayer, meditation, exercise, medication, drugs and alcohol, nutrition and sleep. Probably the best way I know to win others to my way of thinking is to listen honestly and build trust.
  • May 11 2012: To think as if you were on the opposite side to understand the causes of the disagreements and then can possibly deal with it rightly.

    For instance, to change your clients' mind of not buying your products or services, you should first think of the decision making process in their organization. You may find out that your client actually likes the products but the process is tedious and needs lots of paper works that stop he/she from launching the request.
    Knowing that, you can to do the right thing that can effectively change their minds (do the paper works for them for example) instead of wasting time and efforts dealing with irrelevant issues.
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    May 9 2012: We do not have an influence, but the circumstances, which gave an opportunity for us to take effect. What kind of this circumstances? It reflects the will of a community more broadly, and we struggled in the same direction with the hope of the community.

    How can we know to be part of a major change? May be we will succeed or be heard. It's not always, but one of them is that we have the necessity to answer the questions or fulfill the needs that are very common and has become the hope of communities that distressed for long time.

    I was trying to get in, when something was considered to be supportive. If the assumption was wrong, then I got out, not to be pushed, doing what must be done to follow the priorities as best I could do.

    If this is done correctly we will be able to keep our priorities and still have the opportunity to provide goodness.

    In essence, influence (I prefer synchronization) is not obtained through coercion of the will, but more due to the understanding of space that must be filled for the fulfillment of a plan.

    First, we seek to understand the structure of a movement. We will see if there is a place that we can fill, and if we can fill it well, then we have aligned and that others see it as we have influence in a particular field.

    We aren't seeking for the influence, but we should seek for what is the best. And this can't be done through influencing, but rather through adjustment that relevant to ourselves.

    For practical, i used to use the parable based on the structure of axiomatic. It depends with whom I spoke.

    One day with my friend with sharp logical thinking, i used a parable to represent the truth (that considered as a dry understanding). Finally there was the wetness on his logical thinking. He felt it as reasonable & well received. And his & my project succeed.

    Sometimes, it was just about dry understanding that could be considered as "it didn't make sense" (unfamiliar).

    Less or more ...
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    May 7 2012: Before looking at how you can change someone else's mind, one must look at how one changes one's own mind. Look at what triggers you to change from one thought to the next. I think in doing that you will find the answer although each individual is different.
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    May 6 2012: Dear Josh,

    Perhaps you have examples as to "why" it would be necessary to convince someone of something. My question would be "why would someone think it is necessary to convince someone else of something?"

    I came across a very interesting Ted talk by Rory Sutherland entitled Sweat the small stuff. I would like to offer the following quotation from this talk, that I think is relevant:



    http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/rory_sutherland_sweat_the_small_stuff.html

    "I think, in may areas of human problem solving, particularly those which involve human psychology, which is: The tendency of the organization or the institution is to deploy as much force as possible, as much compulsion as possible, whereas actually, the tendency of the person is to be almost influenced in absolute reverse proportion to the amount of force being applied."


    BTW. Are there situations where you would have wanted to or want that someone tries to convince you of something?

    When you look back, are there situations where someone convinced you of something and you experienced it as being beneficial?

    What are your thoughts on free-will and regarding the ethics of "convincing" someone of something. Perhaps you can offer a definition of "convince". Perhaps you are referring to inspiring someone, encouraging someone or shifting perceptions?
  • May 6 2012: [JS] Throughout life, you will meet people who don't agree with you, IT'S INEVITABLE

    [JC] The inevitability of the disagreement implies that some people will have a point of view which cannot be changed in any meaningful manner. The subtle subtext is that moving a person's opinion from 'their' viewpoint towards your own position will always require varying degrees of coercion.

    'Incentives' may be used to attempt to change views which are held. Fear of consequences and fear of authority are powerful motivating factors for adjusting one's own viewpoint but when they are removed, the viewpoint will readily move towards the original position. Discussion can change a viewpoint where there is nothing to lose in agreeing (a debate in a classroom for example) but any loss, be it face, power, position, rights, property and so on... common agreement is not easy to secure.

    We may appear to reach an agreement on TED but I suspect that this is because debates with random names on a computer screen do not involve any substantial loss and if a 'defeat' is particularly heavy, we can let the username languish and rejoin with another name.

    I start out with the opinion that the other person's viewpoint may have some merit and I try to see the matter from their perspective. I will usually modify my own viewpoint in the light of better evidence or new information. In general terms, I don't try to change set viewpoints because their inherent nature suggests that it is a futile task. Eventually, death will supervene and nature takes its natural course and I don't need to exercise my sense of self worth and superiority.

    If a viewpoint requires any degree of violence or force to change it, then the battle is not one upon which I will waste my time. Legislating for personal tastes is impossible and unsatisfactory. Any attempt to dictate taste (e.g. you must love your extremist neighbour; because he is human) are a comedic reflection of our inability to separate reality from fantasy.