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Video Update: How to Convince Someone to Change Their Mind

Video Update: How to Convince Someone to Change Their Mind

In this video update, I give my answer to a good question I recently received from a reader: how do you convince someone to change their mind?

My answer is, “You don’t.” At least, not easily.

Convincing someone to change their mind is like selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. It’s not impossible, but why try? I think it’s better to recruit than to evangelize.

Although I definitely prefer recruitment (connecting with people who are predisposed to an idea) to evangelism (knocking on doors to sell vacuum cleaners), my answer isn’t the only answer. Feel free to share your thoughts and let me know if you’d answer it differently.

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40 Comments

  • Jo says:

    cool video, i want more of it.
    And i think you are completly right. THe best way to change somebodys mind is to not to try it. Because everybody must find the truth with his own eyes, before you see it, you can not believe it. Everybody has to make his own experience…
    greetings from germany

  • Sacha Chua says:

    One of the interesting thoughts I picked up at the recent Social Recruiting Summit was that you don’t build community, you find it. You can help facilitate it, but you can’t engineer it, and you have to be prepared for the possibility that the community is not the same as the one you’ve imagined. =)

    I do a lot of work with technology adoption and evangelism. It’s much easier to find the early adopters and influencers, work with them, and spread from there, than it is to try to make everyone adapt right away.

  • Patrenia says:

    Great video Chris….Nope, I do not disagree. There is this fever that goes around constantly with people and their need to be RIGHT. I must say that I’ve have/had it. I have to remind myself constantly that everyone has their own version of “right” and my way is not the only way.

    I do though prefer your ideas and I will use this approach with the launch of my site.

  • Aximilation says:

    Good concept. I can spend my time arguing with people via email about why my web site is best for X, Y, and Z, or I can spend my time searching for people who already support what I have to say.

  • Darren says:

    I work in Sales so this post was particularly relevant to me :) One quote this reminded me of is from Zig Ziglar, the sales trainer and motivational speaker:

    “Before you can get a prospect to change his mind, you’ve first got to get him to admit he was wrong, that he made a mistake when he said no. Well, friend, let me ask you a question. How many times in the last 12 months have you admitted that you were wrong, that you made a mistake?”……”No, the prospect won’t change his mind, but he will be delighted to make a new decision based on new information.”

  • A simple truth that we all forget. It really brings me around to the belief that if you have to work to convince someone of your point of view then the only person who was truly convinced by that action is yourself.

    It can be hard when the passions run hot to remember this, so thanks for the message.

    Hope you are enjoying yourself in Sunny Portland, OR, I know I am.

  • Tara Joyce says:

    I’d been thinking about this idea a lot lately, Chris. My recent innerpreneur project with a collaborator did not work out and what I think lay at the root of why it was not compatible what this very concept. He is an evangelist and I am a recruiter. I’m not trying to convert people. I believe in leading by example. That is the way to ‘change someone’s mind’, in my opinion.

    Thanks for getting me thinking,

    Tara

  • Jared says:

    Hey Chris,

    I think you are 100% right. A great quote that sums that up your point is “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”

    Furthermore, I pass by SO MANY people at these mall kiosks that try to catch you as you pass by and very few people are ever interested in this. I just wish they would spend their time FINDING those that ARE interested (which seems to be so much more effective, and MUCH less taxing on your emotions).

    Great post.
    *Jared

  • Glenn Edley says:

    Chris I have just an “aha” moment watching this video because I realised that is what I do. I tell people about my ideas / projects / work and whoever gets it or likes it is always the person who buys in. No resistance.

    Excellent video and a thought provoking subject.

    Glenn

  • Melanie says:

    This is an issue that I deal with constantly as a historian. Some people value historic buildings, artifacts, and stories and some people don’t. I understand that and am fine with it. Yet, in the preservation field where I am most involved, I am often called to stand in front of a community or council and argue vehemently for saving something historic. I am happy to explain my educated opinions to those who are on the fence and may be persuaded one way or the other (even if they don’t become a passionate follower), yet I have no interest in trying to convince those who are hostile to the idea. Many of my colleagues would interpret my distaste for arguing in these situations as proof of ineffectiveness or even incompetence. I see it as a waste of breath.

    Thanks for the encouragement!

  • dreamin2u says:

    I agree with most of what you said, but I also think we can do more. You will never get someone to change their mind by challenging their beliefs. That said, you can often persuade someone to see things differently. The method I’ve had the best results with, is using the Socratic teaching method, i.e. asking questions which lead a person towards the conclusion you hope they will reach. Here’s an example: lets say someone says they don’t have time to exercise. First, I’ld respond, “I understand how you feel, I have felt that way myself.” (That shows you understand their position and are not challenging it.) Then I would mention, “Illness was costing me a week or 2 of work each year due to colds etc.,before I started exercising. Since I’ve started walking 3 times a week for about 30 minutes each time, I have found that not only am I missing work less than 1/2 as often, I feel better and have more energy for accomplishing my daily tasks. Getting more done in less time means that hour or 2 each week has translated into an actual time savings annually. Personally, I don’t have time to waste by not getting in my little bit of exercise.” “DO you get colds sometimes?(Everyone does! LOL) Does it bother you when you miss work? (Again, usually a positive response.) Would you like to be more effective and have more energy? (Notice a pattern? getting people in the habit of saying yes to you!) Can you walk while you listen to podcasts and/or dictate into a recorder? (Who wants to admit they are in such bad shape or uncoordinated they can’t do those 2 at the same time? LOL) Would you spend 5 dollars now if you knew it was going to save you at least 10 bucks before the year was over? If so, maybe you want to consider investing time in exercise now, to save that time later.
    It will not always work, but anytime you help lead someone to a decision that’s in their best interest, you’ve done them a favor. And if you also receive a benefit from their new decision, then so much the better!!! Just my take on it.

  • Tony says:

    Chris,

    You are so wise for such a young man. It took me many years of experience to learn what you describe in your video. In my field (investment advisory services) the conventional wisdom is to sell the public what they want or think they want. I’ve discovered over the years that recruitment is a much better way to create value in my business. I seek out those already pre-disposed to my investment philosophy. There are also people who may not understand our philosophy, however they are quite skeptical of the American financial sales system. These thoughtful people are open to hearing an unconventional approach to building and managing their wealth.

    Recruiting makes a much better business model. My mission is to change the world by sharing what I’ve learned about investment management. I give away much of what I know to those who are interested. I’m only hired by those who find value in outsourcing their investment management duties. Investing is really not complex, but it sure isn’t easy.

    Regards, Tony

  • Danielle says:

    Wow this is so true…I actually had this discussion with one of my friends the other day. I was involved in a situation where I told someone something that I thought they might find interesting. However, they were less than interested and totally disagreed with my perspective on the situation. I actually found myself upset at the fact that they were not on my side. And I liked to believe that I am a very open-minded person like you said. Unaware that I was close-minded to even think that the person might be interested in the same things. How would you overcome disagreement?

  • Dillon says:

    Even in religious circles evangelism is looking more and more like recruitment than the pure evangelism you describe. So even the evangelists are changing.

  • Melissa Dark says:

    Great video Chris!

    It made me think of my Ex- husband.. I used to try and get him to see my point all the time (nagging, I think it’s called, lol) I used to try and get him to understand my point of view, but it never got through to him… it’s very similar to a salesperson coming at you.. nag nag nag, but never getting anywhere.
    Hence our imminent divorce.

    Dreamin2u – just a friendly note.. it all sounds good BUT.. it still sounds like a salesmans pitch. Which doesn’t appeal. Cheers!

    Now re-married and not talking to a brick wall.. ~ Melissa ~

  • John says:

    Connecting with those predisposed is the way to go. Like you said, it takes quite a lot to “convert” someone to your point of view.

    However, it’s not like the act of trying to change someone’s mind is pointless. People’s minds are changed everyday based on what they learn about. Nobody knows everything. I recall that there was a time when everyone thought the world was flat. Now that we have more knowledge, we know that the earth is round.

    It is by learning that people’s minds can be changed.

  • Brandon S W says:

    I certainly agree with the position that you can’t really change people’s mind. But I do believe that when you’re promoting your movement (or product/service) it is extremely important to understand the other person’s perspective and desires so you can communicate to them inside their frame of reference. For example, I was on the board of directors for an international organization that does community and economic development work in Central America and the Caribbean. When recruiting members and donors it was important to understand what THEY wanted to get out of joining the organization. Was the potential member a college student; did they want to get college credit, or do research for a project while working with us, or practice another language? Was the potential donor looking to make business connections in the other country or were they looking for positive publicity in their local community? How we discussed the opportunity of joining our organization depended on the answers to questions like these. You’re not going to change anyone’s mind; if your organization (or movement, or product, or service) can’t offer what they want then you will never recruit them. And you shouldn’t try. But if they are the right people, at the right time (nod to @havi) and you present your opportunity in a way that communicates with their desires, you have an excellent chance of making the connection.

  • Victoria says:

    Well said, as always! Community building is not about hard selling your ideas, but presenting it. There shouldn’t be an attempt to change people’s minds, only to open them up a little.

    It’s one of the reasons I keep reading your blog – it doesn’t read like a sermon or a sales pitch. I find myself reading through an entire post even if halfway through the post I see that I can’t relate to it or disagree.

  • Roshanna says:

    Grande! Bello! Bravo! It is such a treat to see how clearly and simply you craft your thought and bring new knowledge, (perspective), to others in a gentle, mindful way!
    Rosh

  • Brian says:

    Not sure this analogy makes any sense. Sure it’s easy to recruit people to something cool and fun. But what if you really want to sell vacuum cleaners? How does recruiting help you sell something like a vacuum? How many people are really going to come to a blog or web site about vacuums? Dyson did pretty well with the bagless shtick, but really it is still just a vacuum, and ultimately people need to sold that a Dyson, Kirby or whatever vacuum is the best. Sold, not recruited. Help me out here.

  • I totally agree. Too many people try to convince people of their great idea instead of finding people who already agree. I’m learning this skill as a business person. I want to help people work happier. That means finding people who know that they can create a better life. Then helping them find their strengths to make it a reality.

  • yilda says:

    I like this!
    agree with you a 100%. usually people who´s are atractived to something use to understand and acepted what another person whith the same point of atraction is telling, or selling or showing.( I think it´s cause they have similar or some coincidence in their blue print)
    (excuse my english, I´m dominican, I speak spanish and I´m trying to comunicate with you, cause I like your place. “the art of non conformity” and I´m learning a lot!
    so Thank you for this interesting video!
    yilda

  • Alex Shalman says:

    YOU ARE WRONG. jk ;)

    There are a lot of books out there on convincing people. In fact, we’re always convincing people, selling our ideas, and I believe that with every books we read, every person we talk to, and every experience we have, we’re changing.

    I’m going to try to meet up with you when you’re in NYC. I got the date in my calendar, just waiting for updates =)

  • Ron Rogers says:

    I believe that in order to learn, you must CHANGE your mind. How will you have any new ideas, concepts, etc. if you do not change what you are currently thinking? Perhaps this is why our schools should focus on education instead of indoctrination.

  • James Nicholls says:

    Recruiting people through a video about recruitment. Genius.

  • Javier Munoz says:

    Clear and effective advice from Chris. Only one’s ego would feel compelled to indulge itself in the self-defeating attempt to convince someone of one’s views. You may choose to live life as if swimming upstream or you may opt to go with the flow dodging the occasional boulders, going through the rapids, and the quiet calm waters… You will meet and play with those going downstream while passing those that are going up. Many rivers many lives: Do recognize that the way you flow is relative to our world view, it is not an absolute.

    Keep playing and making it real!

    J.

  • Nate says:

    I agree totally with what you say here. I’ve been thinking about this kind of thing a lot lately, actually. Especially in marketing, what you have said here makes a ton of sense and I think it’s the best way to do things. Sure, direct marketing will always work… I’ve made some decent money sending people to a long-copy cheezy sales page. Changing peoples mind about things from a business standpoint can obviously be done, but creating a relationship with someone and a community of likeminded people is a better way to go.

  • ilina says:

    I see your point – it’s surely easier for your ideas to be adopted by people who are already aligned with them than by random people.

    Yet, when it comes to persuading people to change their minds, I have seen it happen so many times that I have no doubt it is more than possible.

    Just yesterday I had to negotiate between two people who had opposing views, and make them come to an agreement. What I did was align with both of them – hear them out completely (one by one), understand their emotions and identify the core needs that lie behind their behaviors / opinions.

    Then, I helped them associate those core needs to the alternative viewpoints through logic. You can always bridge one opinion to another and help them meet halfway at least – in a way that will benefit everyone.

    I think the most important thing in persuasion is that initial alignment with the person and understanding where they are coming from, so that you can build onto that, instead of opposing it.

  • Sean says:

    Recruitment vs. evangelizing…perfect analogy!

    It is definitely better to attract like minded individuals rather than try to convince others. Once you try to convince someone of something, or to see it your way, an invisible wall goes up. They need to protect their way against outside intrusions.

    You will draw others to you by asking them what they think and know, not by telling them how it is.

  • In the end, each of us determines when it’s time to change our mind, and that process occurs for two reasons:

    1) We come across new data which is compelling enough for us to revise our old opinion – this tends to be real change, as we actually think about an issue.

    2) We simply join the crowd and follow a popular notion – this is what I term momentary change, as it’s not based on logic, or even emotion, but rather on an ego driven desire to fit in, be cool or impress.

    Write good stuff which contains a compelling argument for your position. Those who are like-minded will get it straight out, while those with a differing opinion “may” change on their own as they evaluate what you’ve said.

  • Josh Moore says:

    I think essentially it is about finding a harmony. If people harmonize with your vision they will naturally buy into it and want to help out with the development and progression. On the flip side, trying to push your ideas onto people who don’t harmonize with you is not usually effective.

    Another good way to do this is to lead by example. If you are showing people how you do things and that with a little effort they could do it too, they will more inclined to listen and apply some of your viewpoints.

    Great inspiring post that could be applied across a lot of interactions we have in all aspects of life!

  • Phil Gould says:

    I strongly believe that recruitment is done through evangelism. Whether it is a product or service or idea, volunteer group or tribe having someone evangelize it will accomplish the desired recruitment. To be an evangelist is simply to enjoy a passionate purpose or a devoted affectionate love for something. Connecting with those of a like mind will certainly make by-in easier.
    Telling your story with enthusiasm, excitement and energy can be convincing!!!

    Cheers,
    Phil

  • Maximo Jr says:

    Great video. I would like to add that the best way in my opinion to change someones mind is to teach them with your example. The problem with a lot of people is that their testimonial is contrary to what they preach. Sharing ideas and believes is great, but the most important think is that people see u putting those ideas and believes in action.

    Thanks for keep working hard and sharing great thoughts.
    Cheers

  • Etsuko says:

    Chris,

    I agree with you on that 100%! Some people have strong reaction to people trying to impose their values. I know because I am one of them!

    Etsuko

  • Ola says:

    this is why i don’t try to convince people to become vegetarian or vegan or to eat more mindfully, even as omnivores. i just do my own thing and let everyone watch and decide.
    people’s diet is probably one of the most sensitive topics, so i’ve learnt that it’s best just to be an example and attract people who are not resistant to my ideas (or who wouldn’t mind being seen with a vegan :)

  • Henrik says:

    Great video Chris, thank you!

    I think most people really are open-minded, but their egos are not and will do everything so that they stay in the status quo / comfort zone.

    But once people understand how their egos operate, they can just laugh at their ego and open the doors for happier and healthier lives.

    It comes back to helping people take better decisions based on new knowledge (as somebody stated above).

  • Chris’ approach is appropriate if one’s purpose is to acquire people for one’s selfish purposes. Yes, you want to acquire sources of money, labor, word-of-mouth advertising, etc., at the least possible cost. So preach to the choir. Do not climb to pluck fruit, just find a tree to stand under from which ripe fruit is falling. Animals do it all the time.

    But if your purpose is to be Kind to another person – to give him your life-enhancing, happiness-creating idea – then you must change his mind. His mind does not contain the idea when you find him; if it did, you couldn’t give it to him.

    “Change your mind and you can change the world,” goes the old saying. Well, if you don’t change someone’s mind, then you have not changed the world. Your mind is the same, and his mind is the same. Preaching to the choir is what’s “ineffective” if your purpose is more than just acquiring things for yourself. (Your life has a greater purpose than greed, doesn’t it?)

    Changing minds is fun if you simply make people envy you. Be happy; exude Joy; be always busy but never hurried; do not worry; above all, be Kind. Everyone will want to be like you, and ask how.

    You will tell them, and some will readily accept your idea. But most will become afraid. That’s where changing minds becomes more work than preaching to the choir. But it’s only “work” if you’d rather be doing something else than being Kind. (If you would, then you have not yet discovered the secret of success.)

    All fear is fear of losing something, including the absence of something. Many people fear losing their established beliefs or the absence of new beliefs that would require them to make changes in their behaviors. To change fearful minds, one must help people banish fear. That is a mind-change, and the most fundamental one. You can’t change a mind about anything else until you change it about fear.

    Once fear is banished, the person will accept and practice your idea because he wants to be like you. That may or may not make you money, but it will always make you happy and successful.

    It really is that simple. I’ve done it for 35 years.

    “Your work is to discover your world and then
    with all your heart give yourself to it.”
    ~ The Buddha.

  • Jud Hampson says:

    Hi Chris,

    I dig your take on this. I read about a similar philosophy relating to a young Chinese emperor who watched over the palace butcher as he carved meat for hours on end without sharpening his knife. He asked the butcher how this was possible and he answered that it was because he ‘cut where resistance was least’. I think these two philosophies support one another.

    I hope you are enjoying Malaysia or wherever you are now.

    Regards

    Jud Hampson

  • Tricia B says:

    Very clear, to the point and on target. Trying to change someone’s mind is a waste of energy. Expressing your vantage point and inviting those on the same wavelength to share and expand on ideas/projects increases the energy…love it …Thanks Chris.

  • Yepa says:

    Cool video! I just tried to change some-body’s mind yesterday and I failed completely. I had not enough back-ground information and words (different language too) to say what I wanted. To it I got hot on the stubborn view the other had about the subject and was unable to stay clear-minded. This video helps a lot then now. I find myself wondering what I all could have accomplished if I had just known better (and had better words, because this way it was not fair play because the words were missing). I know it was an important standpoint I got with the subject but instead of helping the other with information and try to pull them over to my ‘side’ I ended up in failure. Thanks for the video.

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