Want to be Effective? A Bigger Hammer Rarely Works
Why Removing Restraining Forces is Better than Increasing Driving Forces

A common problem in persuasion:
What doesn’t sway us can make our beliefs stronger.

Much like a vaccine inoculates our physical immune system against a virus,
the act of resistance fortifies our psychological immune system.

Refuting a point of view produces antibodies against future influence attempts.
We become more certain of our opinions and less curious about alternative views.
Counterarguments no longer surprise us or stump us—
we have our rebuttals ready.

We can rarely motivate someone else to change…
BUT we can help them find their own motivation to change…
if we approach them with a non-judgmental attitude of humility and curiosity.

Three Keys:

Asking open-ended questions
Engaging in reflective listening
Affirming the person’s desire and ability to change

Illustrative Excerpt from ‘Think Again’ by Adam Grant (pp. 147-149):

“As Marie-Hélène was getting ready to take Tobie home, the vaccine whisperer the nurses called was a neonatologist and researcher named Arnaud Gagneur. His specialty was applying the techniques of motivational interviewing to vaccination discussions. When Arnaud sat down with Marie-Hélène, he didn’t judge her for not vaccinating her children, nor did he order her to change. Arnaud told Marie-Hélène he was afraid of what might happen if Tobie got the measles, but he accepted her decision and wanted to understand it better. For over an hour, he asked her open-ended questions about how she had reached the decision not to vaccinate. He listened carefully to her answers, acknowledging that the world is full of confusing information about vaccine safety. At the end of the discussion, Arnaud reminded Marie-Hélène that she was free to choose whether or not to immunize, and he trusted her ability and intentions.  

Before Marie-Hélène left the hospital, she had Tobie vaccinated. A key turning point, she recalls, was when Arnaud “told me that whether I chose to vaccinate or not, he respected my decision as someone who wanted the best for my kids. Just that sentence—to me, it was worth all the gold in the world.Marie-Hélène didn’t just allow Tobie to be vaccinated—she had his older siblings vaccinated at home by a public health nurse.

The above is 99.9% drawn from ‘Think Again’ by Adam Grant

As always, I share what I most want and need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier