Audio Version 9 mins or listen on Spotify
Taking The Team With You
Are you good at getting people to change their minds?
It’s an essential skill in steering the whole team to greatness. You know how some of them drag the chain when the slightest change is afoot.
But you’re pretty persuasive, aren’t you.
You steered clear of opinions. You gave them the inarguable facts and figures in clear, elegant fashion. They nodded in agreement.
Job done, boss.
It did not change their mind even a little bit.
What you did back there was persuade yourself. Based on your own beliefs. That they do not share.
It’s always been hard. Now it’s risen to Olympic difficulty.
People build their own reality bubble made of Facebook comments. A large chunk of humanity will now believe literally any shit that appears on a screen.
Facts have never been so irrelevant, and people can choose them as if truth was a team sport.
David Attenborough vs Pete Evans
I watched an old Attenborough doco on the weekend and every few minutes he’d drop an amazing fact I was unaware of.
“In those times the days were only six hours long because the earth was spinning much faster,” says Dave. How did I get to this age without knowing that?
It made me sad. It reminded me of when media gave us thrilling knowledge. Rather than pure arseclown opinions that are actively anti-knowledge.
Now we have … whatever Pete Evans reckons. A wild grab bag of cooked conspiracy theories. I don’t know why anyone bothers becoming a scientist any more.
Let’s see what’s simmering in Pete’s mental kitchen.
Oh Barney you lovable dinosaur. Hey kids let’s count! One, two, three, four, five … hundred thousand … dead worldwide.
Pete’s got plenty more for you every day.
The Paleo Pete mindset has ruined the word research. Whenever you talk to some tinfoil-hat maniac, they always end with ‘do the research’.
Because on Google results page 12 they found the secret ‘facts’ on 5G or ‘global cooling’. Written by a retired engineer who lives in a caravan in his daughter’s backyard.
Trying to get truths to take root in this toxic topsoil is brutal work.
Online or in the office, pushing your precious list of facts will likely make people cling tighter to their own nutty beliefs. Particularly if they belong to a group that’s right into that nuttiness.
Confirmation Bias: It’s In Everything
It’s good old confirmation bias: when all new evidence supports what you already think. The business world is MADE of confirmation bias:
- You see only good things in that new project you’re desperate to get funded
- Other people make errors because they’re stupid or inexperienced. While your errors are down to external factors outside your control.
- Your CEO commissions Big 4 consultants to write reports that find … what the CEO already decided.
Logic has little role in it. If you want to persuade people, you’ll have to work around that. Five tips:
1. Don’t Let Them Map The Territory
I see friends whose time is valuable, yet they use it replying to Trump tweets as if he’d sent them a personal email. Earnest crafted rebuttals, like it’s a high school debate. And like anyone’s listening.
His game is winding you up with ideas that make you angry and now you’re arguing on his turf. You lose.
Plenty of that goes on in business.
If you sense people are arguing in bad faith, try shifting the topic onto territory more friendly to you.
2. Find Something To Agree On
Tell them they’re right about something they seem keen on. Something that’s not important in the grand scheme of things.
Before you say it, pause like you’re giving it deep thought.
Nobody likes you telling them what to think every time. If they feel it’s a shared issue and there’s respect on both sides, they’re much more likely to come across.
3. What’s Their Real Beef?
Some bad news for the ‘if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it’ crowd.
We sometimes get staff disgruntled because they’re overworked compared to others. (OK that was last year when we were flat-out, now we dream of these problems).
So we pull out spreadsheets with hard numbers. Proving they were in fact working less than others.
Is their response ever
“Oh, I was wrong. Sorry.”?
No it’s always something like
“While those numbers seem accurate, the real evidence is in my feelings that I’m overworked.”
You can’t just show them numbers and expect those feelings to go away. If they’re unhappy, there’s a reason.
What are the real issues? Maybe it isn’t the long hours, maybe it’s the short notice and last-minute changes to those work shifts. Do their hours seem long because they don’t like their supervisor?
Persuasion can only come through deeper questioning. There will be unspoken issues lurking miles underground in their mental cave. These missions take time.
4. Get Them On The Bus Earlier
Several conversations spaced out over a couple of weeks work so much better than one big one.
Say you’re a manager announcing a response to some kind of bad news. You’ve gone through the fear, acceptance and response-plan stages already.
If your staff aren’t aware of that bad news, they go straight into fear mode. Your pre-packaged solution will get plenty of resistance, as animal instincts kick in.
Let them in the problem earlier, and ask for their thoughts. Like the old mum-saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’.
In real life it’s not really a 50/50 deal but it might get you 20% of the way to agreement.
5. All Experience Outside Your Bubble Helps
A lot of advertising gets no traction because it’s written by an overworked 25 year old who works till 9pm each day.
They spend their rare spare time drinking with their overworked friends. Who all have the same values and experience as them. It’s not their fault, that’s what I’d do.
How are they expected to understand what motivates a 40 year old mother in a regional town to buy cheese?
Every minute you spend talking to random members of the public is a lifetime investment in your persuasion skills.
Even Paleo Pete. I sat next him on a plane once, and I ate all the bread rolls he refused.
Damn, carbs have never tasted so good.
I appreciate your sharing these stories, thanks.
If you liked this you might enjoy Why You Should Talk To Cab Drivers.
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