How to Change Anyone's Mind Without Persuading Them

How to Change Anyone's Mind Without Persuading Them

Effective persuaders don't tell people what to do. They encourage people to persuade themse

At some point, maybe even today, you've wanted to change someone's mindPersuasion is a key skill for everyone, and it can help you in business.

In his new book, The Catalyst, Wharton business school marketing professor Jonah Berger offers techniques and strategies for changing minds. One strategy seems counterintuitive, but it's brilliant: Effective persuaders don't tell people what to do; they encourage people to persuade themselves.

According to Berger, if you tell someone what to do, they become defensive. However, if they arrive at the same conclusion themselves, they're much more likely to buy what you're selling, whether it's your idea or product.

Here are four strategies to become an effective persuader and get anyone to follow your lead.

1. Provide a menu.

Give people a choice and they're more likely to go along with your idea.

If you're a parent, you employ this strategy all the time. You know it's not effective to make a demand like, "Eat your peas!" Instead we ask, "Which would you like to eat first, broccoli or chicken?" That's a menu.

The same strategy applies to your customers or prospects. According to Berger, effective persuaders provide a limited set of options from which people can choose. For example, most successful advertising agency executives don't show up at pitch meetings with only one proposal. They don't present 12 ideas, either. They offer a choice between two or three ideas.

"If the agency shares only one idea, the client spends the entire meeting poking holes in the presentation," Berger writes. But if you offer a few choices, the client spends their time deciding which one is better.

Give people options.

2. Ask, don't tell.

Ask more questions and make fewer statements.

According to Berger, people are often reluctant to follow someone's lead, but they're more likely to follow the path they set out for themselves.

For example, let's say you're trying to get your team to go along with a new initiative. Ineffective persuaders push it on people in the form of a declaration. Effective persuaders do the opposite. "They start by asking questions ... visiting with stakeholders, getting their perspectives, and engaging them in the planning process," says Berger.

This reminds me of a workshop I held with senior executives for a large, well-known travel organization. The company has more than 140 physical locations around the U.S. The challenge was to get everyone on board with a new plan to communicate benefits to customers. We decided that rather than tell employees what to say, we'd ask each store manager to hold listening sessions with employees to get feedback.

The final plan was very close to the original idea that executives had in mind. But by getting feedback--and incorporating some of the changes we heard--buy-in was seamless. There was little to no pushback from employees because they had a sense of ownership in the plan.

Questions boost buy-in. Ask more of them.

3. Highlight a gap.

Berger says that people strive for internal consistency. They want their beliefs and actions to align. Highlighting a gap means pointing out a disconnect between a person's thoughts and actions.

For example, if you're convinced that a project needs to end, you've got a tough sell. Your team might be wedded to it because they've put in so much time. Inertia sets in. 

Berger suggests asking your team if they were starting from scratch today--knowing what they know--would they embark on the project? Ask them to put themselves in the shoes of a new CEO. Would a new leader green-light a project?

Highlight a gap in thinking to boost buy-in.

4. Start with understanding.

Applying "tactical empay" is far more effective than telling people what to do. Effective persuaders make people feel like they're looking out for them. Rather than "persuade," start by understanding the other person.

Pay attention to your words. Berger suggests using inclusive pronouns. For example, you can say: "You and I are going to work this out" or "We've got to keep working together." By using "we" instead of "I" statements, you're more likely to build a bridge of trust. 

Stop trying to convince people and encourage them to persuade themselves. It's the most effective persuasion strategy there is. 


How 5G Will Fundamentally Change Everything You Know About Mobile Computing-

If you think we live in a society of instant gratification, just wait until 5G, the fifth-generation wireless network, reaches major cities worldwide.

But first, let's pause to ask a crucial question: Why 5G? First-generation wireless gave us voice. Then 2G added text, and 3G enabled basic mobile computing. With 4G, we got higher speeds and zillions of apps to help us work and play while we're using our phones. 5G opens the floodgates to download speeds of one gigabit per second, or more than 10 times what we're used to. Movies will download in seconds, YouTube clips instantly.

South Korea and China now lead in development and rollout, but in the United States, 5G is now in more than two dozen cities--from Atlanta and Detroit to Indianapolis and Washington, D.C.--as wireless companies race one another to expand service.

Those networks aren't necessarily ready for prime time. For one, you can't tap into the power of 5G without a new, 5G-compatible phone. Plus, 5G relies on a spectrum that is so high­--millimeter waves--it can't go very far, or go through walls. And right now, it's expensive to install.

But when it does arrive full throttle--and it will by 2023--5G will fundamentally change the role of the mobile device. In a 5G world, augmented reality will become truly ubiquitous, so common that the technology could be table stakes for businesses like retailers and gyms. A clothing shop, for instance, could use AR to let people see themselves in an outfit in a range of dynamic, immersive environments. A gym could give members graphical biometric readouts to track and optimize their workouts as they happen. The same technology will change live entertainment events. Baseball fans will use their 5G phones to play TV producer, choosing which of multiple camera angles to watch, and getting real-time data from cameras that track, say, the velocity and spin rate of pitches.

And 5G will unleash the bots. A factory manager could install a private 5G network and easily integrate a line of wireless, collaborative robots to work alongside humans making, say, precision-machined components for the auto industry. One group of robots could deliver raw materials to production lines and another could load trailers. With the wider network, they could move with more coordination, anticipating humans in their path and responding to their environment with more immediacy.

As a result, they will be more reliable and safer. And because the bots will be wireless, it will be far easier to add another production line.

The technology will reach everywhere. An indoor vegetable farm could install its own 5G private network and run faster, more fully integrated systems that talk to one another and respond with more autonomy, be they robots that pick plants or sensors and algorithms that adjust humidity, assess plant health, tweak temperatures, or manipulate hydroponic grow systems.

All this is doable today with 4G and Wi-Fi, but 5G will bring more instantaneous communication and a seamless, faster system. Tech firms, banks, hospitals, and other data-intensive companies will have the bandwidth to move enormous amounts of information in real time. In the case of health care, 5G is the pathway to digital therapeutics, allowing patients to get treated at home with the help of VR, AR, and mixed reality; doctors will use remote robots to visit patients in faraway hospitals.

Governments, too, will be able to collect more detailed data across geographies and, with the help of algorithms, predict and respond immediately to emergencies such as pandemics or extreme weather events. Combining 5G with mobile apps, sensors, internet-of-things devices, and predictive algorithms could turn notoriously slow local governments into well-oiled operators, with tools that span traffic, safety, and city services.

There's no question that such a high level of surveillance and data capture comes with privacy risks--a particularly important issue in the U.S. Cities will need to plan now for how to protect citizens' privacy while advancing new technologies that help them. The payoff is that the network will ultimately pave the way for truly connected smart cities.

And there are big risks beyond privacy. When things fail--and they will--they could fail spectacularly. Hackers will hit the mother lode, as they'll be able to siphon off dramatically more sensitive data far faster than they ever could before. Cybersecurity will only grow more important--and the cybersecurity industry will have to grow to accommodate it. Think about 5.8 billion IoT devices next year, ranging from remote robotic surgeons to autonomous vehicles. It's one thing to hack someone's doorbell, but another to hack into an autonomous vehicle or a hospital's medical devices.

5G has been called the catalyst for the world's fourth industrial revolution, and planning for that future is essential. Consider what 5G will look like for your business--how it could disrupt your industry or create new opportunities. Forward-looking companies and leaders will plan now for privacy and security concerns, rather than backfill to solve problems as they come.

It may take a couple of years for 5G to blanket our country, but when it does, data will flow freely between more people, more places, and more devices at speeds and volumes we've not seen before. 5G will unleash a new wave of entrepreneurs and innovators. We don't know which companies will be winners or losers. But given the speed of 5G, we will find out fast enough.

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