I’ve spent a lot of time on Twitter over the past few years and I’m fascinated by how insane people are.
You know that quote, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Well, the polarized people on Twitter (progressives vs. conservatives, maskers vs. anti-maskers, bitcoin maxis vs. alt-coiners, carnivores vs. vegans, etc.) keep thinking that simply tweeting replies to people they disagree with will change their minds. Um, no.
Several centuries ago, Jonathan Swift wrote, “Reasoning will never make a man correct an ill opinion, which by reasoning he never acquired.” In more common language, “You cannot reason someone out of something he or she was not reasoned into.”
It’s very difficult for a person to unilaterally change their mind on a serious topic and it’s darn near impossible to get someone to change their mind by sharing facts with them. Yet, there are other ways to persuade someone to your way of thinking in an ethical manner.
If we’re not effective at ethical persuasion, then there’s no way we can help qualified prospects become happily engaged clients.
Trish Hall is a long-time journalist with stints at The Wall-Street Journal and The New York Times, including nearly five years as editor of the Times Op-Ed page. She joined me on my Barron’s Actionable Intelligence podcast to talk about her new book, Writing to Persuade. During the convo, we discussed several proven ways to persuade people, particularly as it relates to using the written word.
3 Ways to Persuade
Trish shared 15 ways to persuade through the written word in her book. Here are three key ones I pullled out of our conversation.
- Stop justifying with facts. As Trish told me, “People think that they can persuade other people with facts, but that’s not really how people change their mind.” People change their mind based on feelings and then justify them with facts. And one of the best ways to emotionally connect with someone is through storytelling. For more details on becoming an effective storyteller, read my blog post here and listen to my podcast with Annette Simmons here.
- Find and accentuate shared values. Each of us have core values that drive our behavior. If we don’t understand the core values of our prospects, we may inadvertently say or do something that conflicts with their values. And if you trigger one of their values, you won’t persuade them. The key here is to find common values during the discovery process. (For an effective discovery process, see here.) Once your prospect realizes how “similar” you are, they will be more likely to do business with you. As Trish said, “You can’t expect someone to change their basic values, so you have to make your argument in a way that fits with their values.”
- Respect your audience and be empathetic. If the person you’re trying to persuade feels like you disrespect them or look down on them, you’re clearly not going to win them over. Showing respect for the other person and trying to understand what it feels like to be in their shoes with their experiences puts you in a better position to understand why they believe what they believe and how they might be receptive to a different understanding.
Trish also shared some behind the scenes stories from her time in the media as well as practical tips for becoming more persuasive. Give it a listen.