Causing someone to change their mind is a process that anyone can learn.
But what about when it comes to actually changing people?
Can smokers of 25 years actually quit? Predictably?
Can the person who has been obese for their entire life really fit into pants 8 sizes smaller?
What about the woman who went bankrupt or had her house foreclosed on? Can she ever change to make good spending decisions in the future?
And what about the guy who screws up his relationship(s). Can he ever be changed to spare him the embarrassment and pain again in the future?
Finally, let’s get real clear…
Can YOU change other people?
Not me, but YOU. Is it possible?
And if I showed you how to do it, is that even a good thing?
For the first time ever, I’m going to go into this controversial territory at Boot Camp, simply because the state of the world is pretty unimpressive and it’s going to take some sharp minds to not only make their own lives a lot better but start changing how people think around them.
1. People become their environment.
It’s not true of every single human. It’s not true of every single scenario. It is however, absolutely predictable and one of the most reliable ways of knowing what someone will do.
You want someone to change in the moment or long term?
Change their environment.
Change the context, the why, of the moment or the long term.
Imagine someone enters the military and the next time you see them, they have changed. Everyone does after having been in the military. Perhaps more than anything including someone who changes churches, this person changes in the most visible of ways.
Is that good?
In most cases, I think it probably is.
Let’s just for the moment say that it is a good thing. And let’s also imagine the person who changes churches or finds a religion is also a good thing. Deconstructing how to change people begins with a critical question. WHY does someone who changes churches/religions or finds God change more slowly than the person who goes into the military. Both people are studies in contrast but the contrast typically requires more time with religion. WHY?
The individual who has found God or a church is not around it’s members 24/7. Over time, the person slowly blends in and becomes part of the picture.
Environment is a constant that will factor into change.
Time in the environment is also a constant that will factor into change.
The girl starts over with a new boyfriend.
One year later?
The two become more like each other and become more different from others around them.
A good thing?
Sometimes. It depends on what shifts and why. People always wonder why it is they don’t see their old friends after the year they have been dating or gotten married.
People can and are changed by other people. It happens every day. It can be intentional, coincidental, or a function of many predictable variables we’ll discuss in this series of articles.
One thing is for sure. After a year with “that guy,” she is definitely, “different.”
But what happens when time with someone plays a smaller role. Can you change people if they don’t move in with you? Can you change them if they don’t go to your church or enter the military?
The lessons from church, the military and the close relationship are significant.
The military and church they move to are unique experiences for someone. You aren’t the military.
The causal element to change someone must be something you can control. It is in fact a trait you will need to acquire. It is the one characteristic of people of great influence.
What is the characteristic of people who successfully change people?
How do you develop it?
How do you master it?
Is it the only important characteristic?
Give me 7 minutes and I will show you how to change your life…and theirs.
You can know all the techniques, strategies and mental linguistics on the planet…but…if you aren’t personally compelling, you haven’t got a chance when it comes to changing anyone.
If you control the environment another person moves in, it is easier to shape their new behaviors. If you don’t, then the greatest factor of whether you can change them or not is you as a Person of Influence.
Not all Persons of Influence have the first characteristic you’re going to look at, but most do, or they appear to.
You must know what the other person “feels about you” before they will easily be “changed by you.”
Probably hadn’t heard that one. Hold this thought and I’ll be back here in just a second…
First: What is influence?
Influence is a process where one person (1) causes another person to change or (2) do something (a behavior) or (3) change a belief or attitude.
Just Who is the Person of Influence?
Who is the great salesman, the great therapist, the great lover, the great President, the great…you get the idea….
There are a number of qualities and characteristics that are crucial to success in changing people…in every usage from relationships to therapy to selling to employees. Above all else is one characteristic that dwarfs all of the rest…
What is it?
Nothing is more important than empathy for someone who wants to motivate others to change.
Sounds hokey, doesn’t it? Certainly not as cool as mind control… Empathy is the ability to feel and understand another. It is the ability to walk a mile in their shoes. Empathy means that you can feel and see life from the perspective of the other person. If and when you can do that, you can predictably change people.
If you can’t, you can always get someone to say “yes” in the moment, but you won’t be able to actually (easily) CHANGE them.
If you can’t feel and understand their pain, fear, anger, frustration, hatred and how they feel RIGHT NOW, you will fail to change people short of controlling contexts and environments.
- You walk into the hospital, see your loved one with the I.V. in their arm. You put a smile on your face, but they know it hurts you as much as it does them. That’s empathy.
- Your child is home sick from school. You feel as bad for them as they feel. You see the result of their bad decisions and the pain of the future they now face. You feel it, too.
People of great empathy have three common traits.
- They have experienced pain first hand.
- They have a wide range of experiences with all kinds of other people.
- They are validated and feel good based upon the approval of others.
How do you get a jar of empathy?
I’ve told this story before. It’s worth YOU telling others about.
I’ll never forget the moment I saw a particular book on the shelf at Barnes & Noble. I might have told you this story live in person. The book was called “Disease to Please”. I didn’t pick it up. Why? The person doesn’t get it. (Just like the guy who wrote “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. It’s All Small Stuff”.) The book might be helpful, but the title spreads a very bad idea virus.
In a broad sense, the ideal life is about two things. Giving and receiving pleasure. (Pleasure broadly means anything that is good.) Take away one of the two (giving or receiving) from the person, and you have a half of a person. Take away the giving part, and in the vernacular, you have a jerk.
I’ll bet a nickel the author of “Disease to Please” will tell the reader that the reason people are unhappy and unsatisfied is that they are trying to please other people at their own expense. And that might be a fact. Perhaps the book proposes to stop trying to please others, and start doing what the reader has never done perhaps pleasing themselves.
As soon as the person stops being helpful, kind, loving, supportive, and nurturing to others, they lose the other half of who they were. This half of them IS powerful and useful.
If you want to predictably change people, you need to be The Complete Influential Person.
The Complete Influential Person
The real solution, obviously, is to always be supportive, kind and helpful. And then to be supportive, kind and helpful to yourself as well. It requires no more time or effort. A simple set of choices. Then, instead of becoming a jerk, you become a complete person. You become a person capable of powerful influence. And that means you are only one step away from success at any level you choose.
The Influential Person (with some notable exceptions) has a strong desire to please… and if they are going to be influential, that extends to the desire to help, for both altruistic and selfish purposes, others be happy, feel better, and be useful as a human. This desire to help, to create value, to love, will often be paired with some kind of pain and no one should tell this person to try and squelch the feelings of being rebuffed, rejected or hurt. That IS the healthy and normal response. These are the feelings that generate the empathic response.
When the person or people you want to change sees these characteristics in you, they judge you as a person who cares, is interested and wants to help others. Kindness. The person of influence is typically a strong, well defined, kind person. There are plenty of exceptions in history, but in general, if a person is empathic and kind, they have significant potential to change people.
Why Does Being Kind Help Influence?
Because you typically won’t listen to a jerk. Jerks don’t care. All they have is their own self-interest and that means you can NOT trust them as they attempt to persuade. It’s as simple as that.
The Cornerstone of Motivation
Question: Can a person of influence, someone with great empathy, also be intense, tough-as-nails, focused, able to self-satisfy at many levels?
Of course. People are allowed to have as many valuable characteristics as they choose. Empathy is simply a cornerstone of motivating others.
You can always motivate by force or coercion. This is obvious. Influencing without authority is fortunately different.
Fact: If you are empathetic, you will have the instant reservoir to tap into that can create change in other people’s lives. This doesn’t mean you will successfully utilize your reservoir, it just means that you don’t have to work on building it!
People who are empathetic make it a point to understand others and to look out for the interests of everyone.
Salespeople could take a lesson from the great therapist (who truly is a great salesperson).
Numerous studies reveal that >50% of the results therapists achieve with a client at the one-year point of demarcation is due to the therapist’s personal qualities, of which the most crucial is empathy. The remaining causes of success in therapy are spread out among the approach, the client’s motivation, their environment, the therapeutic alliance, etc.
When I say that people don’t buy the product or service and that they are buying YOU, I’m not kidding.
In the most simple terms: Your client is buying the empathy they feel in you.
There is little or no resistance toward the influencer that has the complete best interest of the client in mind.
What About the Person you want to Change?
In order for you to change the person, you will need to be certain several criteria are met.
- The person must be capable to change or taking an action. This simply means that they can literally do something if they chose it. You can try selling an airplane to a guy who can’t afford a matchbox car but he won’t be able to take action.
The person must be ready to change or take action. Remember that most people are mired in the status quo. The client who smokes or drinks too much who doesn’t have an interest in changing isn’t likely to be motivated to change. Similarly, the person who really believes that he doesn’t need to invest his money or buy a car that will get his family safely from point to point will need to be motivated to get to the “ready” stage. A person is ready when it is the most important thing to them and whatever they were holding onto previously becomes secondary.
- People don’t like giving up anything. Attitudes, beliefs, feelings, emotions, thoughts, ANYTHING. People want to hang onto what they are familiar with. People say they want to quit smoking…and “part of them” probably does…but it isn’t as important as what they are getting from the experience itself. The person is ready to make a change when they have shifted their priorities.
- The person must be willing to change. Do they want “it” at all? If it doesn’t hit their radar, then you haven’t experienced a client that even wants to make a change. They see no reason. They feel nothing. And…nothing will happen as a result. Your client will need to be approached in a fashion that will trigger change.
The “approach” you use with someone will vary from person to person.
You will be certain the criteria are FIRST met and THEN you wave the magic wand.
Over the years, salespeople have learned that high pressure simply created enemies and can destroy the relationship. Thirty years ago, various therapeutic styles fell into the category of being confrontational. (Direct challenges to the client.) These styles might work with a specific individual, but overall they were a miserable failure.
Similarly, extremely high pressure challenges fail in other influential settings. Tell someone that if they don’t buy the car today, that they lose out…well everyone knows the car will still be there tomorrow and it is NOT going UP in value as it sits on the lot.
The vast majority of people DO need to feel some discomfort in change, but they normally don’t have to feel the fires of Hades to make a good decision.
Think of it this way: The person you want to change will not respond to high pressure if it makes no sense to be pressured. A successful person of influence simply doesn’t need one person’s “sale” that badly. And it will all show in the approach.
That pressure packed person can’t change anyone…for the better.
“If you don’t buy this today you will have wasted my time and it cost me a lot of money to be here for you and if you did this the way it is you’d get rich and what are you thinking?!?!!?”
That said, if the salesperson is in poverty, and if they don’t make the sale then, they (the salesperson) lose. This means the salesperson is selling the wrong product for the client and salesperson.
“Whether you participate or not is fine with me. I’m happy to help you here today. I’m busy. I might have a chance to help you in the future, but you must make a decision that is best for you.”
So, Who is the Person of Influence?
It’s going to be you.
Work on your empathy this week. Pay attention to others. Observe them. Think about what they might be thinking. Take time and invest it wisely.