Change Talk

Two humans head silhouette psycho therapy concept. Therapist and patient. Vector illustration for psychologist blog or social media post. Vector illustration.

We all know how difficult it is to change someone’s thinking. Yet we are often dedicated to convincing others to wear masks, get vaccinated, or that Jewish space lasers are responsible for California wildfires.

What doesn’t work is the Preach and Prosecute method cited by Adam Grant in his recent New York Times article: “The Science of Reasoning with Unreasonable People.” This is where we extol the virtues of why we’re right and prosecute the other party for why they’re wrong, which only strengthens their beliefs.

Grant says it best “Much as a vaccine inoculates the physical immune system against a virus, the act of resistance fortifies the psychological immune system. Refuting a point of view produces antibodies against future attempts at influence, making people more certain of their own opinions and more ready to rebut alternatives.”

Consider employing Change Talk, which is used in Motivational Interviewing. Instead of trying to force others to change, find out their intrinsic motivations. Ask open-ended questions and listen carefully. Then shine the light on nuances in their thinking, so they become less extreme and more open. Social scientists have found that asking people how their belief might work, rather than why it would work was more effective in keeping an open mind. But what works in business is much harder than in our personal lives. Or maybe it’s disproving the case for space lasers and wildfires.

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