Change Someone’s Mind by Showing the Big Picture

No one wants to admit they’re wrong. We cling to our beliefs and grasp onto them tighter the more someone tries to change our mind. As logical and sensible as an argument may be, there may be a far more effective way to get another person to see things differently. You may want to try to acknowledge their position and introduce them to all the relevant facts so the person may change their own mind, instead of you trying to do it for them, according to a recent Lifehack article.

It’s part of your job to persuade others. Different strategies may be more or less effective depending on the situation and the people involved.

When you’re using arguments to change another person’s position you’re essentially telling the person they should change their mind. This puts them in the difficult position of admitting they’re wrong, which is easier for some than others. Your efforts may backfire in some instances because corrections suggested by you may enhance misperceptions by the other person.

You may be able to avoid this by showing the “big picture” of a situation or dispute. Blaise Pascal, the 17th-century French philosopher, wrote about persuasion long before Sigmund Freud started modern psychology. Pascal suggested the way to change others’ minds is to show them the whole picture instead of proving them wrong, by

  • Acknowledging the validity of their point of view, and
  • Leading them to discover the other side of their argument.

Every point of view has value. You should recognize what the other person has right in their opinion. Then reveal the other side of the issue, the part they haven’t observed. Everyone has their own blind spots, and most of us realize that. They shouldn’t be offended by such an approach because it’s easier to admit we failed to see all sides of an issue instead of admitting to making a mistake. People are also generally better persuaded by reasons they discover themselves than by reasons imposed by others.

You can give suggestions instead of instructions or commands. Play the role of a guide instead of an instructor. Guide the person through the issue instead of enforcing authority. Ask questions instead of making judgments. If you sound friendly and make suggestions the other person should feel better and consider more seriously what you want them to consider.

Persuasion isn’t just about arguing strong and valid points. People need to be receptive and put their guard down, so you need to lead the person to accept a position by educating them. People are much more willing to learn than are likely to switch positions based on arguments quickly. In the end, the result is the same, a changed mind, it’s just accomplished from within, through acceptance of a broader set of facts.

Everyone like to feel smart, no one wants to recognize a mistake was made. Make the other party feel smart by educating them, allowing them to adjust their opinion and seeing the wisdom of your position in the brighter light of the big picture.