One of the key traits of a successful business is adaptability — something that’s played an outsized role over the past few months. But while it’s one thing for business leaders to institute change, it’s quite another to get a team, clients, and partners on board with it. And without their support, a business will struggle.
For strategies on how to help sway people’s minds, Inverse reached out to Harrison Monarth, founder and CEO of GuruMaker and an author, and Lauren Schieffer, a communications consultant, speaker, and author. Here are their tips:
10. Be credible.
“Establish your credibility through your expertise, reputation, network, credentials, and results achieved in areas of value and interest of those you're looking to persuade,” Monarth said. “Without relevant credibility in the eyes of a particular audience, your message will carry zero weight.”
9. Understand their feelings.
“Get to know the person you are trying to influence,” Schieffer said. “What matters to them? What brings them joy? What makes them angry? Understanding even a little bit about them helps you walk in their shoes with empathy.”
8. Adapt to your audience.
“Frame your message around the values of your audience, not your own,” Monarth said. “Here’s an example from politics, on the issue of equal rights for same sex couples: Equality is a value that generally resonates with progressives but not with conservatives. Framing messages around values of group loyalty and patriotism resonate more with conservatives than progressives. Conservatives who heard a message supporting equal rights for same sex marriages with the argument that same sex couples are patriotic Americans who are contributing members of our society supported same sex marriage in vastly higher numbers than when they heard a message emphasizing the need for equality.”
“Adapt your communication to meet them at their comfort zone.”
7. Read the invisible signs.
“Every human being has an invisible sign hanging around their neck that says ‘make me feel important.’ Read the sign,” Schieffer said. “Let them know that they matter to you as an individual. Hanging underneath that invisible sign is a second one that says, ‘And what's in it for me?’ Give them the ‘what's in it’ for them. How will it benefit them to follow your lead? How will it benefit them to improve their performance, to change their behavior, to buy into your idea, to do things exactly the way you want them done? Frankly, they don't care how it will benefit you — and often they don't care how it will benefit the organization. Show them how it will benefit them. Those invisible signs are your key to persuasion.”
6. Show proof.
“Support your message and views with credible testimonials (credible to your audience), compelling data, and vivid examples from people they can relate to,” Monarth said. "People are more open to messages that feature relatable personal anecdotes, tailored to the lives and experiences of the average reader or listener. A politician campaigning to run for office often cites a vivid example of an individual's or family's problems as emblematic to an issue on his or her agenda, with narratives like 'Just last week, I sat down with Julia, a single Mom of two who is working three jobs to put food on the table, and who can barely afford ... '"
5. Meet them where they are.
“Adapt your communication to meet them at their comfort zone,” Schieffer said. “Are they a bottom-line kind of person, or do they need the story behind the moment? Do they need a faster-paced or more methodical communication? Will they need a 30,000-foot perspective or minute detail? Flex how you communicate to meet them ‘where they live.’ Offering information in a format that is easier for the recipient to absorb and act upon makes everything easier.”
4. Understand people’s barriers.
“Understand what exactly people resist in order to neutralize the barriers to acceptance of your message,” Monarth said. “People resist change for all kinds of reasons, and knowing why, e.g. too hard, too expensive, too risky, too soon, don't know how, makes me look bad, not enough time, don't trust you, didn't work before so why now, my friends/peers don't like it, too confusing, doesn't affect me, etc., will enable you to tailor your approach in swaying someone's mind.
“Psychological safety is key.”
3. Gently lead people from their comfort zones.
“Don't push them too far out of their comfort zone,” Schieffer said. “My experience has shown me that forcing people out of their comfort zone rarely works. People forced outside their comfort zone are frankly … uncomfortable. So, at the earliest opportunity, they scurry back to where they feel secure. Two steps forward and two steps back takes them right back where they were, and the next time you try to pry them out of that security, they will be more resistant to doing so. Instead, gently encourage them to expand their comfort zone. Just like a latex balloon that once blown up never returns to its original size, once expanded, their safe space will forever be larger. That means they will be more willing to expand their safe space the next time you need them to grow.”
2. Make people feel good and safe.
“Connect emotionally with people and they'll be more receptive to your message,” Monarth said. “We're more trusting and more willing to listen and give someone the benefit of the doubt when someone makes us feel good (about ourselves, about them) and safe. Psychological safety is key.”
1. Be empathetic.
“Utilize a feel-felt-found technique to overcome objections and put a positive spin on the objection,” Schieffer said. “Say things such as ‘I know how you feel …’ 'I felt the same way …' ('Or Ken and Barbie felt the same way …') and 'What I (he/she/they) found was …' Empathize with their feelings. Put yourself in their shoes, and then let them know how it turned to a positive (or will turn to a positive) in the end.”