It’s not quite a trick, but it sure works: Asking the right questions. Questions can be the difference between stating what you think someone should think or letting them come up their own good reasons for doing so.
Management consultant Dan Pink says, “The key here is that we tend to think that persuasion or motivation is something that one person does to another” when in fact, the trick is to get the person to persuade themselves. That’s where the questions come in.
As a parent of a teenager who could have been the one Pink describes, I’d say there could scarcely be a more perfect example of impenetrable intransigence. And yet, after years of fruitless begging, mine has decided — for her own reasons — to keep her room clean, thus proving Pink’s premise that her parents’ reasons were never really the point.
Persuasion is always about building agreement using the other person’s point of view, not simply insisting on what we think. If you ask a question that interests them, they’re immediately engaged. With their answer as the foundation of your followup, you’ve got a real chance at changing a mind.
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