Gert Scholtz en Lifestyle, Directors and Executives, HR Directors BeBee Ambassador • beBee 18/5/2016 · 2 min de lectura · 1,6K

A respectful way to change someone's mind

A respectful way to change someone's mind

Often we find ourselves wanting to persuade someone to change his mind or his behavior.

A manager may see a disaffected employee at work, a client may be reluctant to test a new service, a teenager may dig his heels in, or a friend is continuing down a path which may be harmful.

So what do we do? Typically we sit the person down and launch into the many “good” reasons why he or she has to change.  Or worse, in a position of authority we simply order the person to do something.

We then find ourselves surprised that nothing happens; they “just don’t get it" despite our best efforts at pointing out the “obvious” reasons and benefits. Or they “don’t listen to what I say”.

Here is the golden rule:

Someone changes his mind and behavior only if he has some internal motivation to do so, and the desire to do so is based entirely on his own personal reasons.

Motivation is personal. No one will alter his behavior if he absolutely refuses, yet all of us most of the time have some personal reason or desire to take on a new direction, form a new habit or see things in a different light.

Is there a respectful and effective way to elicit a change of mind in someone?  Yes there is.  Here is a tested paradigm of five sequential questions you can use.



Why might you change? Note the operative word here is “might”. It is the free choice of whether one will change his or her mind. One of the most reliable results in the science of persuasion is that a person is more likely to take a new decision if given a free choice to do so. So, the exploration here is simply why might you want to change?

How ready are you to change on a scale from 1 to 10? This question probes the level of motivation a person has towards a change of mind. The actual level, whether a 2 or an 8 is chosen, doesn’t matter. The idea with this phrase is to pinpoint some degree of internal motivation.

Why didn’t you pick a lower number? Instead of asking why the level chosen is not higher, the question goes in the counter-intuitive direction – why are you not less motivated.  A question few people expect. The prod explores what internal drive there already exists towards changing. It may be small, it may be large - but what there is, is focused on.

Imagine you’ve changed. What are the positive outcomes? One of the most persuasive words is “imagine”. For a moment the hurdles in getting to a desired outcome, which may be quite relative anyway, is put aside and the mind is focused on the positives of the ideal outcome. Judgement is suspended and the attraction to a positive outcome is expanded.

If you take a next step, what would it be? To build on the potential growing motivation to change - what is the smallest and most immediate action you can take towards the new behavior? By identifying the “one small step”, the new mind-frame is activated and keeping up the new insight or habit is strengthened.


The philosopher Blaise Pascal said: “People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they themselves find attractive.” Very true. 


 (Source: Adapted from the work of Dr Michael Pantalon in medical ER units where his approach has yielded exceptional results and is now part of medical training in the United States.)


Dean Owen 6/8/2016 · #9

Have you beta-tested this method on your wife @Gert Scholtz? Let me know if it works on, for example changing your wife's mind about wanting that diamond pendant necklace! It could be very useful!

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Gert Scholtz 12/7/2016 · #8

#7 Thank you @Vincent Andrew.

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Vincent Andrew 12/7/2016 · #7

These are good questions to ask @Gert Scholtz. I might want to try this on my students who lack the motivation to study harder!

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Gert Scholtz 19/5/2016 · #6

#1 Thank you @Julie Hickman and again thank you for sharing my posts.

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Gert Scholtz 19/5/2016 · #5

#2 Thank you @Ali Anani. Very true what you say - people don't hate change all that much - as long as they can decide it for themselves.

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Gert Scholtz 19/5/2016 · #4

#3 Indeed Franci - giving the person option to choose and decide has been scientifically shown to be the best approach to convincing another. It it feels much better as well!

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I wouldn't think too many people like to be made to change. Why might you want to change is an excellent approach as it allows the person to feel they have options.

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Very thoughtful buzz @Gert Scholtz and the logic flows. Yes, change requires internal motivation. People don't hate change that much; they hate much more being forced to change. In other words it is internal motivation that affects changing.

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