The know it all and the very stubborn CAN be influenced.
There is a general difference between the two. (Stubborn vs. Know it All)
Stubborn people are typically (not always) stubborn in specific contexts. Their immediate reactive behavior to your ideas and proposals is a protective mechanism that says, “you can’t manipulate me.”
Stubborn people got that way by yielding often to disastrous results.
Their current stubborness helps keep them safer in their mind, not reality.
The know it all is difference. They simply behave as if they know everything… about everything.
Their middle name is google.
If you propose ANYTHING counter or off center with their current ideas, beliefs, thoughts, approaches, methods… then you are going to be sorely disappointed.
But there is another level to the Know It All.
The Know It All often develops reactive answers, ideas and opinions to your suggestions. They have quick minds that develop fairly strong arguments quickly that support their new idea/belief.
It all sounds like a tall task to influence these two people.
But you have no choice. You either live with them, work with them or perhaps most challenging you are that person yourself!
Let’s begin with good news. The stubborn can be quite easy to persuade. They might start out every sentence in response to persuasive requests with either, “no” or “It’s possible.” That means, “I doubt it but who knows.”
You can then open with your point but you’ll need to approach them as a reactant and resistant person.
Get past the reactance, make a logical and rational argument and you will hear “yes.”
Stubbornness is part of a context dependent identity.
YOU are stubborn about certain things.
Those “things” are where your identity as a person has their identity pinned.
Trying to change something that is related to their identity is VERY difficult.
Trying to SHIFT something that is attached to their identity is something that requires a delicate balance of empathy and rational approach.
Never approach the stubborn person as stubborn, except to acknowledge that they are careful and wise to be so. (This is true by the way!)
Recognize that they are stubborn about THIS point or subject because this is about who they are as a person.
Trying to change part of someone’s identity is basically the same as saying these things:
1. “You are wrong for being you.”
2. “You need to be changed.”
3. “I know what’s best, so I will change you and you can comply.”
The reality is that all of those things are possibly true but the chances of gaining compliance with that sense in the other person’s mind/brain is quite small.
Remember, stubbornness serves a purpose. The individual perceives their barriers as protecting themselves from you (and other evil people who want to bring about change).
When you experience their stubbornness, think, “They believe they are protecting themselves from me.”
This is where you BEGIN.
Hearing people out on an issue or about a problem can be a truly valuable element in the process of influence and change.
But remember that you can offer this person $100 bills for 50 cents and if they FEEL as if you are trying to strike at their identity they will walk away from you. This is a stimulus/response action in their brain, not their mind.
That action sequence is saying, “I’m not changing for you or anyone else, at any cost or benefit to me.”
Now I know you are thinking that reaction is crazy, and it is, but it is 100% NORMAL human nature.
There are benefits and drawbacks of hearing a person out on their stubborn ideology. There are also benefits & drawbacks of agreeing with that ideology.
WHEN SHOULD YOU have someone speak their mind in a persuasive communication?:
If your (potential) client, friend, or family member, is going to be moderately opposed to an idea you are about to present, then having them present their disagreements will help reduce resistance.
You however should never become disagreeable in the presence of your (potential) client while a zealot is present.
A zealot is someone who is going to have a strong and VOCAL opinion that differs from what you are going to present.
KEY POINI: The zealot’s arguments only reinforce the zealot’s own certainty about a topic causing them to dig their heels in deeper.
If your potential client is the zealot, never ask for their verbal opinion or begin to debate the issue or any other subject with them.
When someone is strongly opposed to an idea you present, the person will counter-argue and will become MORE resistant short AND long term because of the argument.
Quick “Getting in Their Shoes” Scenario:
I want to make this about you and not them for just a second.
You are religion (political party) X.
You are very committed to religion (political party) X.
If someone says that religion (pp) X is bad or not “right”, you resist that.
You become “aroused.” (Irritated, angry, upset, fearful…emotional)
Then what happens?
Flight/fight kicks in.
Remember: You are committed to X.
Therefore you are being threatened!
What is your behavior likely to be?
COUNTERARGUE (fight to DEFEND) with great intensity or simply walk out the door.
After all, you are attached to the belief. The commitment. It is part of your identity.
The greater the commitment to X (whatever it may be), the greater the arousal to the threat of changing the attitude.
Therefore if you want to reduce resistance and possibly get to yes, you must FIRST reduce arousal.
“HOW do you reduce arousal?”
KEY POINT: Remember, if the other person doesn’t know you have their best interests at heart, everything that follows is likely to fail for both people.
“I don’t care whether tasting your chocolate ice cream will cause me permanent happiness and wealth, I will not taste it. I had a bad experience with it in the past and I will NEVER taste it again.”
That is the reactant “mind” at work. Of course, it really isn’t the mind at all. There is no “thought” happening there. It’s a simple but potent reptilian level trigger, as you can see.
People will sabotage their lives, their business, their family, because of a speck of their currently evolved identity.
Does all this sound too familiar yet?
So how the heck do YOU deal with “the situation?”
How do you cause people to actually THINK about the problem at hand? How do you cause people to tackle the problem in a meaningful way that will improve both of your lives or projects? There are a few effective ways to navigate this kind of raw emotion. Psychologists have studied these sticking points in people’s brains for about a decade now and are making progress at finding solutions to simple but stubborn self destruction points.
For example, studies at University have shown that when students write essays that conflict with their current belief about something, they become aroused.
Later, and this is IMPORTANT, to self soothe and reduce their own arousal, they adjust their attitude to come more in line with what they wrote in the essay.
In other words the simple act of writing a one page document that conflicts with a sticky and antiquated belief/identity point can cause a shift toward rational thought in as little as one day.
What if a pen and paper aren’t handy? What if a laptop is 5 miles away? What if you can’t convince the person to write a counterpoint simply from the point of an intellectual exercise? Remember the person isn’t THINKING about this identity element, it’s simply part of the person’s current makeup in their mental constructs. If they actually thought about it, they would modify the behavior, simply by the act of consideration. Instead, they respond with one of these, “I’m not going there.” “This is ridiculous.” “No one does this kind of thing.”
“This is stupid, I’m not going to write a paper saying you are right. I’m not 12 years old.”
You can’t push your apparent hostile opinion against their identity speck on an issue as raw as this. Instead you must elicit points of common ground and encourage the other person to articulate those points.
Then YOU clearly agree with the points of common & agreed upon ground the other person has generated because you helped them into the elevator from the lower level of the brain to the upper level of their mind.
Remember this is the FIRST time in a decade or two they have given mind level consideration to this identity speck. It’s been acting as a poorly constructed defensive shield (it doesn’t work) for 10, 20, 30 years and you are NOT strong enough to beat the beast down. Instead you must find the other mental constructs that are connected in their brain to this identity speck.
“I will not do dishes.”
“You never do dishes.”
“I’m not a 1950’s housewife.”
It sounds ludicrous but you can substitute ANYTHING for dishes and the brand identity the person doesn’t want. (1950’s housewife in this specific case.)
You cannot expound on the virtues of putting the dishes in the dishwasher (or whatever verbal suggestion the identity speck is triggered by).
There is a 0% chance that will effect change in the other person. You can’t rationally communicate a different point of view until they have their own mind is awakened.
Instead you must have the person communicate as many of the related constructs in their brain as possible.
Your question: “What does doing dishes mean?” They respond: “It makes me a 1950’s housewife.” (The brand and logo they don’t want) Your question: “And what does that mean, so I can understand it.” They respond: “Don’t patronize me with your questions it means that I’m worthy of doing more than the dishes after dinner.” or “You know what it means (you have no clue), it means I’m not going to be treated like crap by you.”
You have now you both potentially got a positive outcome on it’s way. Maybe.
Now remember this person has NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT this trigger. They are well aware it exists. They simply have no rational thought connected to the trigger. You are now about to stand next to the earthquake instead of in the earthquake.
Now be careful when you stand next to an earthquake. Avoid the prosecutorial stance. These triggers have explosives attached to them.
“How do you want to be treated by me?”
“I want you to RESPECT ME.”
Once again, remember they have NEVER thought, cognitively, rationally with their pre-frontal cortex what RESPECT (in this context) is and how they WOULD be respected. They have no clue so be CAREFUL or they will be one step away from feeling stupid which will trigger yet another earthquake zone.
“It’s obvious this is important. I get that. I see that. You know I want to respect you in ways that matter. Would you be OK to tell me some things I can do and say that would show you great respect. Not one but just a bunch off the top of your head?”
With luck they will have some associations with “respect.” But more often than not, they don’t.
“YOU KNOW HOW TO SHOW RESPECT YOU IDIOT.”
“I understand. That’s just like right now when I’m concerned about respecting you. So I get that. But how else. What are some things I can do to give you the respect you DESERVE and that you need most.”
Most people who are sitting on triggers have never thought about what they actually want. ANTICIPATE this response. But again, people live within their brain and rarely venture into their mind where they can actually think.
I’m going to skip possible disaster paths because they simply will happen on occasion. Instead I will go to someone who has even a faint idea.
“Well you can say, ‘Hey can I do the dishes for you from now on, I know how much you hate it.'”
This is a wonderful response of course because now you have THE answer. And now you MUST follow up with one more question.
“Is their anything else I can do to show you respect in ways you don’t get right now?”
The person needs to see your intention is crystal clear. They need to see you are trying to break through to rescue them from, instead of put them into, prison.
“Can I tell you when I think of something?”
And you reply with “of course.”
Failing to complete these sequences and cycles of communication like this would be a big mistake.
Arousal causes attitudes (beliefs, ideas, thoughts) to become further entrenched and resistant to persuasion.
You’ve accomplished part of the goal of the verbal equivalent of them writing a “one page essay” of as they would do in a scientific experiment.
You’ve caused the person to LOOK AROUND the proximity of an identity speck. You didn’t delve into it but you looked at connecting points in the brain.
A crucial goal to accomplish a victory for all involved is to reduce arousal first.
You will need to come out in support of the person’s identity. You must show that you are smart enough to see that they are not crazy. (Or at least the chances are quite good they aren’t. Really it’s just these identity specks that are “crazy.”)
Dr. John Gottman, renowned relationship expert and scientific researcher has isolated three key factors that can predict divorce with 90+% accuracy. You can determine the factors in less than 10 minutes in a relationship. That for another day.
Gottman told me that when you become “flooded” (*upset*, *extremely aroused*) your heart rate increases and so do your breathing rate.
I know what you’re thinking. This is how you always are when you become upset and that some people go straight from rational to jumping off of a cliff. When people are easily flooded they have a LOT of triggers upon which sits a lot of dynamite. Sometimes you will have to try and remove the dynamite and it will be a challenging day. For the first 50 attempts at creating change you want to give the person space. After that you’ll likely need to become more intellectually constructive with the other person. If you try and do this early on in a relationship (not giving someone 10 minutes to calm down a bit) you’ll pay the price in less rational communication later.
At this point you become resistant to persuasion.
I’m now paraphrasing from conversations.
In these situations his advice is to stop persuasion attempts or you will make things worse. Wait ’til things are calm to influence.
My addendum from experience has been to completely change the subject line of the communication that generated the flood.
Repeating the same message that was received as, “You are stupid, crazy and ill-informed, along with having personality traits no monkey would take pride in…,” is unwise.
Finding common ground, as we did in the discussion above about dishes, is much, much wiser.
In relationships there are such things as unresolvable issues. Many things can cause those unresolvable issues. Some though by no means all, are caused because of the perceived attack on the identity speck.
Alternative Approach to Agreement
Another way to change attitudes is to have people perform the behavior you want to suggest to them to without talking about the attitude.
This requires trust on the part of the other person. You’ll need to give them a risk reversal, a money back guarantee as it were, in that if the line of behavior fails after 30 days you will be the first person to cease the project.
Once people ACT one way and THINK another, they tend to change their thoughts (or their thoughts tend to change…if you will) to be more congruent with the actions.
This is why it’s important to get clients and customers INTERACTIVE with you in person or your website online.
Have people write things on PAPER, type things, underline important ideas, and so on.
(This isn’t old school. This is school that works vs. school that doesn’t.)
Here is one of the most valuable facts you’ll ever read…
Actions > Attitudes
Behavioral Change 101: Get people to do the actions without asking for attitude change.
This is how we teach children and adults. It’s one way we navigate the world in an emotionally intelligent fashion. It’s the fastest, least painful road, from here to there that there is.
What’s the next most effective approach if everything above is precluded?
Have people perform an UNRELATED helpful behavior and that alone can cause them to later accept your proposal even when there is significant resistance!
Unrelated behaviors help change the state and position of thinking. You can take a person from their nonconscious/lower brain and move them up the ladder to where they will be more capable of communicating thoughtfully by shifting the conversation or activity you are doing.
Thus, if you want someone to do something or buy something and before THAT happens you ask them to help you with the yardwork, (and they do indeed help!) they are more likely to help you do the next thing…their attitude is more likely to change AND their arousal reduces!
There are a couple of interesting nuances though.
People who are REALLY COMMITTED to X (their idea, product, belief, religion, whatever) counter-argue more and their commitment becomes stronger with each argument.
Your logical, rational continual debating against their IDENTITY only causes them to defend THEMSELVES more. You do the same.
On the other hand, people who are only a LITTLE COMMITTED to X counter-argue more weakly and the ability to counter-argue reduces their arousal (intensity) and ALLOWS THEM TO AGREE WITH YOU.
Thanks to Dr. Sekar Raju (U. Buffalo) and Dr. H. Rao Unnava (Ohio State U.) we now know that allowing people to disagree could be the best thing to happen with people who have modest commitment (investment in the religion, the relationship, the product) while getting to the debate/argument stage with highly committed people makes them even MORE committed!
Internet vs. Talking: What causes Predictable Behavior in Gaining Agreement, Buying and Selling?
If you can predict what people do given circumstances, it’s fairly easy to influence.
Let me give you a specific but simple hypothetical question.
Someone writes in a forum online that you don’t like brand Q.
Someone else tells another person on the phone that they don’t like brand Q.
Which person is more likely to be consistent with their previous statement (typed on the internet vs. orally expressed)?
We’ll answer that question in a minute.
If someone has bought a product in a specific room/office/store the best place for them to buy from you again is in the same place.
Context more than anything pushes agreement and “yes” triggers.
Context triggers all the accessible memory from the first purchase and dramatically increases that experience and your making the second sale.
If someone bought something from you on the telephone, or you’ve been in touch with them by phone, CONTINUE to do so because as I have found out the hard way, you want to REPLICATE the original SUCCESSFUL selling medium.
If the customer bought on the internet, make your second sale on the internet. Don’t try and call the customer. Again, replicate the original context for maximum replication of brain activity which can yield the same or similar result.
“Gambler’s Fallacy and Going with the Trend: Predicting What People will DO Next in Every Facet of Life”
The Gambler’s Fallacy says that after a LONG streak of wins or losses the trend is more likely to reverse at the next event or flip of a coin. In random events, this of course is not accurate.
“The Trend,” is a short term fallacy that says that after a few “wins” or “hits” that the trend will continue. And of course this is not accurate either. This is very much like thinking a basketball player is “hot” so you want to give him the ball for the important shots.
Predicting what happens is pretty simple. Short TRENDS are experienced by investors and gamblers as a “reason” to STICK with the trend.
Long TRENDS are experienced by investors and they predict these trends “ready to end.” Investors and gamblers bet against the trend.
Neither belief structure represents reality as random events are…random. But people see patterns in everything. Therefore when presenting information in marketing and selling it’s important to remember how people make their decisions!
What’s another recent discovery?
The most subtle ways to work around identity problems is to allow contextual changes to happen. Specifically make new information available to the other person in a way that it is obvious that you didn’t generate the new information.
“Saw it on TV…”
Maybe they have been primed by what they read it in the newspaper, heard it on the radio, saw it on you tube.
Availability Bias: People tend to think or do whatever they’ve just been exposed to.
Stocks of companies that are featured in the news are often the stimulus for people buying that stock outright or over another stock. In other words, people see the company in the news and if the news report is positive people go to the net or call their broker and buy it, for no logical reason. (Dr. L.F. Ackert, Dr. B.K. Church)
Individual Investors are net buyers of stocks of companies that are talked about in the media. Attention grabbing information can cause “liking” of a company by consumers.
When other people are heard talking about stocks the listener is more likely to invest in that stock.
It’s very important to have some kind of positive PR for you, your work, your business, if you want persuasion efforts, now or later to be effective. The power of the priming and the awareness alone are incredibly potent forces in causing people to decide one way or another!
Quite often, other people are your most effective tool of persuasion.
- The Association of National Advertisers reported that 73% of senior marketers saw no impact of advertising campaigns on sales. 80% said they couldn’t accurately measure return on investment.
- $300 Billion were spent in the USA alone on advertising. $1,000 per man, woman and child.
- Most of this money is spent by huge corporations who have the ability to influence and build sales with their dollars and most fail.
- Companies don’t find out what their customer motivations are and they then have no idea why people are doing business with them and not someone else. They have little idea how their brand is perceived.
- A magazine? A full page ad will be viewed by the reader for 3 seconds before they turn the page. 3 seconds. Your job in magazine advertising is to first get the reader to STOP flipping pages. You can TEST that before it ever hits market by having a randomly selected group of people in your demographic flip through a magazine with your dummy ad in it to see if ANYONE actually stops to look at it. (No one does this.)