Opinion: n. communicating a relatively weak transient belief which is subject to change if confronted by (logical reasoning and/or experiences) and/or respected authority figures which nullify samer belief
Persuasion: n. getting agreement that a goal(s) is worth achieving
Before you try to change someone’s opinion it is best to stop and ask yourself three basic questions-
Is the human important enough in my life?
Is the opinion that I want to change going to benefit me and/or the another human in some way?
Is the opinion important enough in my life to spend my time, energy, effort, and maybe even money trying to change the opinion?
If the answer to the three questions is yes then go ahead and try to change the opinion.
If the answer is no then you are wasting your time, energy, effort, and maybe even money trying to change an opinion which should be left alone in the first place.
Persuasion is called an art because humans are different and what may persuade one human may not persuade another even if you use all the recommended persuasive tactics or tricks suggested by others.
There are general principles of persuasion which optimize the probability of success in changing another’s opinion but it is not a sure thing so my suggestions are merely ballpark approximations to what should be done to change someones’s opinion.
In general you will be more persuasive if you are
respected as an authority figure,
use factual or real examples to support your opinion, and
customize your opinions to the real life experiences and feelings of the human that you are trying to persuade.
Changing someone’s opinion is easier than changing someone’s basic beliefs but it is always easier to do if there is some personal benefit which can come from a change in opinion. If your persuasion will lead to someone saving time, energy, and money and even feeling happy about the change then it could be a worthwhile persuasion.
Try to change an opinion if you come from a position of authority or respect and are either known to have expertise on the subject or have a relatively close trusting relationship with the person whom you are trying to persuade.
Historical precedents are important because if something has worked before or is working well now then chances are frequently pretty good that it will work in the future too. Also appeal to experts or testimonials if you want to back up your persuasive powers with influential humans who have the same opinion.
Personality types will also affect your persuasive ability and it might be wise to determine whether a human is very dogmatically inclined on a subject or is malleable and open to differing views on the subject. If you feel there is a great emotional investment or emotional attachment then opposing that opinion may only lead to an argument or a strong denial.
Not so obvious is that it is very important WHOM you are trying to persuade. Is it your boss, employee, customer, friend, date, spouse, offspring, stranger, team, or audience whom you are trying to persuade?
Business persuasion is very different than trying to impress or persuade your date what a good potential mate you will be and persuading an audience has its own unique skill set. Google and find out what are the unique ways of persuading each category of humans. You will only find general principles covered in this blog.
Unless it is a close friend or spouse generally stay away from attempts to change a religious, political, or sports opinion which can quickly escalate into an undesirable argument and standoff.
WHAT you are trying to persuade a human of is also very important. There are factual persuasions and very subjective personal persuasions about politics, religion, sports odds, and aesthetics which are very frequently excursions into futility because the highly emotional beliefs or opinions are so strong and seldom subject to change or persuasion. Sometimes facts or statistics are coupled with strong emotional biases or feelings about what the facts really mean and a strictly logical approach to try and persuade may not be sufficient to reach a persuasive agreement.
If changing an opinion may result in an immediate or future pay increase then persuasion can lead to good personal benefits and should be pursued.
For an overloaded working mom it can be beneficial to try and persuade the husband to get more involved in doing household chores and share the burden or responsibility. The husband may have an opinion that cleaning the house and cooking is women’s work so she will probably have to come up with a lot of convincing examples of working couples sharing the household workload.
Janitor men clean and men chefs cook so you can argue that cleaning and cooking is not just women’s work. Yes, historically stay at home moms took care of the house and offspring but times have changed so mutual effort is now the smart thing to do.
Trying to change human opinions as a public speaker is much harder than changing a one on one opinion where you can get immediate feedback from the one that you are trying to persuade or convince. Public speaking is persuading from a distance and that requires additional skills which don’t have to be used in one on one persuading which entails a lot of questioning, feedback, and two way discussion in general.
In one on one persuasion it is very important to do most of the listening and only short and sweet head nods and brief responses showing respect for the others opinions. Using phrases such as “I know where you are coming from” and “That makes a lot of sense” shows a respect for another’s opinions.
Asking probing questions to determine all the pros and cons of the situation and probing for possible objections to your point of view are also important because they will have to be addressed and in doing so you may uncover some flaws in your point of view which will need attention or change. There is seldom a perfect opinion and yours may have some flaws too which you should admit to and hopefully correct.
Try not to be overly confident, aggressive, and don’t proselytize with a basic viewpoint that you are a know it all. This will automatically put the listener in a defensive mode with a tendency to disagree or say no to whatever you may have to say. Try to stay calmly in discussion mode and not in intense argument or debate mode.
Sometimes partial agreement is better than no agreement at all. We are really talking about the art of compromising here so there is a win win situation for both even though one or both parties don’t get everything that they wanted. Sometimes it is even smart to agree to disagree and leave the issue unresolved for the time being.
Use statistical consensus if it exists in what you are trying to persuade because many people are motivated by the herd instinct and want to frequently be in the majority with their opinions. This approach can be dangerous with teenagers since peer pressure is a statistical consensus or what the majority is doing. If the majority is using drugs of some kind then this does not mean that you should be doing it also.
if someone likes you,
if you are an expert or authority figure,
if you do them a favor first,
if many have been persuaded already,
if they have made a commitment, and
if scarcity is emphasized then you are more likely to persuade successfully, especially if you are trying to persuade someone into buying something.
Before trying to persuade someone you have to assess
who you want to persuade,
how you will persuade, and
when you will attempt persuasion.
Whom do you want to persuade?
If you are in a position of authority over someone then you will have more success in persuading that person. If you are the boss with expertise then you may be very persuasive about job related issues but not necessarily in topics or opinions outside the job sphere.
If you are a parent authority figure then you will have a greater probability of persuading your offspring even though realistically you may occasionally have to use some coercion or the threat of punishment to get them to do what you want.
If you have expertise in a field or are in a position of authority then your relevant opinions will be more respected and your persuasive powers will be greater.
You will probably also be better able to persuade your spouse or close friend with whom you have an honest, sincere, and trusting relationship. Close associates who may admire and respect you will usually be more persuaded by you than if you try to persuade total strangers or casual friends.
If you use authority figure opinions or statistics which show that most humans believe or behave a certain way then you will be more persuasive because most humans generally respect authority and want to be accepted as part of the majority or don’t want to seem like loners.
What do you want to persuade about?
You must also realize that persuading one to change a strong religious, political, or sports belief or a strong opinion will be almost impossible and not worth the effort. It is much different if you are trying to persuade someone to buy information, goods, or services from you where a human may actually have a desire, need, want, or interest in what you are selling or offering.
Persuading your spouse to do something at home like taking out the garbage out on a regular basis, spending more time with offspring, or doing you a big favor is possible but you may have to do something in return to be persuasive enough.
If you are trying to persuade someone then assess whether the persuasion will lead to mutual benefit in some way. If you can demonstrate that you gain something more than just a boost to your ego and the human whom you are trying to persuade will gain something good by being persuaded then the probability of being persuasive goes up greatly.
Before you begin to persuade first ask whether there will be any benefits for one party or both if the persuasion is successful or goes through.
How will you persuade?
If you compliment or boost someone’s ego and make them emotionally feel good first then you will often have more success with your persuasive attempts.
If you first probe the possible responses or opinions of the one whom you are trying to persuade and listen carefully to what they have to say, then you may put yourself in a better strategic position and be able to fine tune your persuasive attempts to the needs, desires, and wants of the human. After listening carefully to the initial responses or opinions you may decide that persuasion may be a waste of time.
If you are confident, enthusiastic, and communicate clearly and understandably then you will be more persuasive.
If you use real life examples in the human’s life or your own to try and prove your point then you will be more successful in persuading. If you can relay an interesting story which backs up your point of view then you will be more convincing in your persuasive attempts.
If you have documented facts then you will sometimes be more persuasive.
If you have thoroughly analyzed a problem or problems with the pros and cons and have plausible solutions to them backed up by facts then you should be more persuasive.
If you can demonstrate or show that something bad or terrible will happen if the human is not persuaded then you may be a more successful persuader.
Remember that threatening someone into doing something rather than persuading them will get results if you are in a position of authority but the human adult whom you are threatening into doing something may not be persuaded that it was the right thing to do and may resent your coercive action and their respect for you may decrease.
When should you persuade?
It should be obvious that if you are trying to persuade a human and they are too tired or too busy then you will have to pick another time to try and persuade. Also persuasion sometimes requires persistence and you may have to frequently try to persuade sometimes using a slightly different approach each time and the time that it may take before being successful may be a week, month, or even a year.
If there is a sense of urgency created in the one that you are trying to persuade then they are more likely to respond more quickly and affirmatively and this applies more to selling something to someone.
Here is an attempt at changing your teenager’s opinion that marijuana usage is not a big thing since so many humans are into it and has become legal in Colorado.
Ask some probing questions first.
Do you think a person has the right to do with his body whatever he or she wishes including drugs?
Do you think marijuana is habit forming for some?
Do you think regular marijuana usage does not affect job performance or thinking? (back this up with factual research)
Do you think that marijuana usage and excessive alcohol usage simultaneously will cause greater driving impairment?
Do you think minors should be able to use marijuana?
Do you think parents who use marijuana a lot will be bad role models for their offspring?
Do you know that excessive marijuana usage by minors results in psychological problems and bad performance in school? (back this up with factual research)
Would you let your 4 year old smoke marijuana? Why not?
Is marijuana a gateway to more addictive drugs? (not an established fact but a more probable yes)
Sometimes black market marijuana is laced with shitty chemicals to get you coming back for more or you can’t trust the quality of it and are sometimes playing Russian roulette with your brain.
Do you know that about 10 percent of the Dutch marijuana users are severely addicted to the marijuana habit? (back this up with factual statistics from reputable research)
In 2015 about 30% of Americans have had an alcohol use disorder and one in 7 or more than 10% are chronic users on a yearly basis and the problem is getting worse. Add chronic alcohol use to habitual chronic marijuana use if legalized nationally and you have over 20% of the population fucked up on two drugs and there are plenty more legal and illegal mind altering drugs to choose from.
Does marijuana unnaturally increase your appetite?
Is pot smoking just as harmful as cigarette smoke in the long duration?
Occasional marijuana usage can tragically lead to excessive usage which can impair job performance, thinking ability, and become a bad role model for personal offspring who will have greater psychological and academic problems in school with heavy usage.
About 10% of pot smokers will become an addicted or habitual burden upon society just as excessive alcohol usage is a great cost to society. There is also the greater probability that marijuana usage will lead to other forms of more addictive drug use in a permissive society causing more social havoc and misery in society.
Drugs of any kind such as opiods, cocaine, marijuana, alcohol, etc. artificially alter the mind’s chemistry and long duration usage is usually detrimental to good brain health or functioning. If you want to lead a productive life and be a success then drug usage will only handicap your ability to achieve wanted goals in life.
Escape from reality with marijuana and alcohol or cocaine usage and reality may come crashing down on you with a failed marriage, failed relationships, and maybe even job failure. There is no proof that average marijuana usage will ruin your life. It just makes the probability that you will have detrimental bad side effects in your life more likely, especially if you become a chronic user.
You should fear rampant personal and social use of marijuana and similar drugs in society because future generations and you personally and your family will probably be adversely affected in the long duration.
Finally, I don’t get high on marijuana and get drunk to feel good or reduce stress. Why should you? I don’t need artificial highs but prefer natural highs to feel good such as exercise and drug free social interaction. Our home is a drug free zone with punishment if caught and you will have to wait till your 18 and you live by yourself to use it freely if you choose to do so.
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