Influence and the “Religion of Politics”
“Are you just stupid or are you intentionally trying to ruin our country?”
Ever notice that the following reply never occurs…
“Y’know, you’re right. I never thought of it that way. I must be a moron. From this point on, I renounce my views and switch to whatever you tell me is actually the correct viewpoint. And, by the way, I’d like to take this moment to thank you for pointing out the error or my ways and saving me from continued wrong-thinking.
No. Instead, this person you’ve just insulted either insults you back or simply defends their position even stronger.
Why? Because — like religion — people identify so strongly with their political views that, to insult that position is to insult them!
So, how do you influence and persuade them to take your viewpoint?
You usually don’t. At least not in the first conversation. What you can do is make them comfortable enough with you that they will be open to additional discussions.
May I suggest the following three steps:
- Understand their positive intent. Yes, most people — regardless of their political party and its dogma — would like to see good results both for individuals and society as a whole.
- Communicate that you understand their positive intent. Express your appreciation for such.
- Begin with a place of agreement. Show where you both want the same thing even if you don’t agree on the methodology to accomplish it.
Example: “Pat, just reading your statement shows me that your heart is in the right place and you really want people to thrive. Like you, I also want to live in a society where people ______________________________. I think our only difference is our belief in the best way to go about it.”
Now, you’ve moved the discussion from position-based enemies to two friends who are simply discussing the best way to benefit the most people. Persuasively making your case is the next step. But, you’d have never gotten to that step without first re-framing the conversation from one of adversaries into allies.
Practice it a bit first, and then begin doing it. You’ll be delighted by the results!
Bonus video: Having any fears or trepidations regarding handling the challenging people you’ll meet at Holiday get-togethers? You might find this 2-minute video to be helpful.