If I Could Change Your Mind
“It took time to realize”
How hard is it to change the mind of a person?
When you try and change someone’s mind, you’re effectively telling them that their current paradigm is wrong — and that your paradigm is the right one. Even if it’s not your intent, you’re positioning them as deficient, and yourself as superior.
Before trying to change anyone’s mind, you must understand their perspective and rationale.
Let’s look at an example.
You’re interested in meeting a friend for dinner. You start the text message conversation by asking where your friend wants to go for dinner. Your friend suggests going to a pizza parlor. Your immediate internal reaction is, “I don’t want pizza — I wanna go hang out at a bar and have a few beers and a hamburger!”
You now have a choice to make — acquiesce to your friend’s request and agree to go out for pizza, or try and change your friend’s mind and get them to agree to meet you at a bar. Both paths might ultimately end up with the same result — pizza for dinner. But one path might lead to your desired outcome — beer and a burger.
For the sake of this example, let’s say that you try and change your friend’s mind. You respond that you’re in the mood for a beer and a burger. The response from your friend is swift — “Then why did you ask me where I wanted to go?” You fire back that your friend can get pizza at the bar. Your friend goes silent. You can only imagine what’s going on in your friend’s head. One minute passes. Two minutes pass. Then five minutes. The next message arrives — “I’d really like to do the pizza place. I’m doing my best to avoid the bar.” And then it hits you. Your friend is trying to maintain sobriety and your suggestion interfered with that.
Let’s zoom out from our example.
When we try to change the minds of people, we’re often working with an incomplete set of facts. In the example, you didn’t know that your friend was trying to stay sober. They had an ulterior motive for suggesting a pizza parlor for dinner. You knew they loved pizza, but didn’t know that the pizza parlor didn’t serve alcohol (and therefore wouldn’t tempt your friend’s sobriety).
Before we try and change minds, we must have context. And we must have empathy.
In the above example, you probably thought that your friend was just being stubborn. And that’s how we view many people whose minds we cannot change — as stubborn.
We completely ignore that they have a context that we might not be privy to.
HAIM — “If I Could Change Your Mind”
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