Why MOST Persuasion FAILS...

Imagine the following scenario:

You: "If you continue eating such unhealthy food, you're going to die an early death!"
The Reply: "My grandfather ate worse than I do, and he lived to be ninety-two!"

Now, lets have a look at what happened here.

You offered a logical argument, but your argument was shot down by the recipient. On a deeper level, the person you were trying to convince probably knows that you're right...he's not willing to take advice from you because that would mean admitting that he's living his life the wrong way and that is a painful thing to admit.

The reason that many such persuasion attempts fail is because we try and impose our views on the other person, such as:

"If you don't get good grades, you'll never get into college"

"Unless you get more organized, you'll be a failure"

"You're going to get fired unless you start working hard!"

While our views may be justifiable, they won't be accepted because it requires the other person to accept that you're right and he's wrong.

So what can we do in this case?

Luckily, we do have an option. Instead of force-feeding our views on the other person, we can instead ask them questions and get them to come to the same views themselves, such as:

"I'm curious. With grades like these, what do you think will happen to your plans for college?"

"Let's talk through this. If you continue to come late to work, what do you think will happen?"

"If you keep making plans for both of us without asking us first, how do you see our relationship going?"

The hope is that the person you're speaking with will realize the consequences of his actions and make genuine choice to improve. At the very least, the person will go away and think about the question you've just asked them and begin to formulate his answers in the privacy of his home.

Statements such as "You're setting yourself up for a heart attack unless you start exercising!" cause the other person to become defensive; Questions instead (when asked in a friendly tone) cause the other person to consider through the consequences and arrive at his own conclusions...

Key Take-Away:

Instead of force-feeding your opinions on other people, ask them questions instead which will cause them to think about the consequences of their actionsBy asking questions, you're allowing the other person to come to his own conclusions and find his own motivation for change. 

So, how about this? Next time that you want to influence a positive change in someone else, instead of pointing out the consequences, ask a question which will cause the other person to take responsibility for his own life.

Article Inspiration:
The inspiration and idea from this article came from the book I'm currently reading, "Instant Influence" by Michael V Pantalon (Psychologist at Yale University)


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