How to convince someone: 4 keys to persuasion
Knowing how to convince someone is not easy because, in the first place, in order to achieve this we have to reject an idea that we usually take for granted in a natural way: that persuading consists simply of providing coherent and logical arguments. To influence other people, whether men or women, customers, friends or family, you have to go beyond the rational.
It is true that to change the opinions of others it is necessary to give them a new perspective on reality that is functional and does not make them feel ignorant, but there are many more elements at play. Many of these elements, moreover, are anything but logical.
In this article we will see what are the keys to take into account to make our attempts to convince someone are the most efficient and effective within our possibilities. Of course, the possibility of modify the beliefs of another person It does not depend solely on us, but we can play our cards skillfully to maximize our chances of success.
- Related article: "Persuasion: definition and elements of the art of convincing"
How to convince others effectively
If you are interested in having clear guidelines to know how to convince someone, follow the following basic principles.
1. Always be clear who you want to convince
There are people who face the debates and the exchanges of opinions as if in them the objective was simply to make the truth prevail over the falsehoods. That is, with a goal set in the abstract, in which true information, because it is so, always ends up convincing everyone who is listening. However, this is a mistake if what we want is not simply to feel morally superior to someone but to really convince.
Try to change the opinion of the person with whom we are talking it is not the same as trying to influence the beliefs of the public that observes a discussion in which we participate . In the second case, those who want to win over the public use the speech of their opponent in their favor, without expecting it to change to get closer to their own, but taking advantage of their position to convey a message. Thus, in these cases what is transmitted is not simply what one says, but the whole formed by what one says and the way in which the adversary reacts to this.
For example, exposing the inconsistencies of what the other says and drawing attention to the fact that it does not admit rectifications can be explained as a symptom that does not understand what is being talked about. This strategy, however, would be wrong if we wanted to convince that person, since the effect of this is to adopt a more defensive attitude, making it more difficult for him to change his mind because of cognitive dissonance. Of this we will speak next.
2. Beware of cognitive dissonance
Although it seems paradoxical, the fact of being aware of clear signs that we are wrong to hold ideas that we identify with us, often makes us cling even more to those erroneous beliefs , in a more irrational and uncritical way than in the beginning. That is, knowing more (knowing the limitations of what we thought we knew), makes us know worse.
The reason for this is that if the clash between an own idea and a new or another one is raised in a very clear and direct way, we prefer to "cheat" so as not to have to deal with uncertainty of not knowing which opinion is really the one that we should defend. Thus, we can act as if we really do not doubt what we believe and live in that comfortable fiction.
So, to convince someone you have to try not to pose the dialogue as a battle of egos. What appears to be a clear defeat and humiliation does not translate into convincing someone, but the opposite occurs; If we "win" in this way, it is most likely that we simply become void for another future conversation, since that person will have hung us the defamatory or demagogue label.
Much more useful than that is not to arrive asserting haughty truths, but to confront the debate with a collaborative way. Without hiding that from the beginning you think different , but trying to make the conversation something constructive that serves both parties. Based on this principle, treating with respect those who disagree with us, it is appropriate to introduce doubts about what they think they know, while offering explanations or alternative positions that help reduce the uncertainty that has just been exposed.
- Maybe it interests you: "Are we rational or emotional beings?"
3. Show your limitations
To be skillful in convincing someone, something that is very powerful is to talk about one's own ignorance.If we say directly that we do not know certain things, as long as they are not central themes of the debate, we reveal a special kind of authority : that of the person willing to honestly transmit their knowledge gaps, so that knowing the rest can decide whether to join that position or not.
4. Appeals to real life
Unless it is a discussion of deeply philosophical issues, avoid arguing based on abstractions : talk always based on real facts or imaginary, even to give examples. That way, the practical meaning of your position is shown, and it becomes evident that you do not speak from detachment for your own ideas.