The way to change someone’s mind—about anything—is not to be more persuasive; instead, find out what is preventing change.
Time and again, Berger (Marketing/Wharton, Univ. of Pennsylvania; Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces That Shape Behavior, 2016, etc.) has discovered in his research that “pushing harder” does not sell a car, change someone’s vote, or get a child to eat spinach. It is not more information, facts, or reasons that are needed. You change minds, he writes, by “removing roadblocks and lowering the barriers that keep people from taking action.” Indeed, “the more we hear about what is preventing someone from changing, the easier it is to help.” In each chapter, the author focuses on the key forces that encourage inertia: the tendency to push back when someone is trying to convince you, attachment to the status quo, reluctance to make big changes, uncertainty, and the need for more corroboration. Berger draws on research and case studies and offers intriguing anecdotes. He shows how a Florida anti-smoking effort built trust with teenagers, asking them what they wanted and encouraging their own decision-making rather than telling them what to do; and how a rabbi befriended a harassing Ku Klux Klan member and convinced him to abandon his extremist views. The author describes how people shed their “status quo bias” when they realize the cost of doing nothing and why identifying and exploiting a “movable middle” can win over swing voters. Uncertainty can be overcome by making new things easier to try by offering free samples. A reluctant boss’s mind can be changed by enabling her to personally experience a novel approach to customer service. Detailed case studies include the story of how Americans abandoned their considerable reluctance to eat less desirable cuts of meat during World War II (with better cuts going to the military) when given recipes for using liver in meatloaf.
A well-written guide that can be useful in both business and personal life.