Three Ways to Influence and Change People’s Point of view.

We  all work hard to influence others. It is a part of daily life.  Unlike just sharing information or trying to increase the audience’s awareness, influence is about getting others to change their beliefs and act on new ideas and points of view.  The process of influence involves the use of strong arguments  and knowing  how to  be perceived and providing a message that makes your presentation credible and believable.  Having reviewed many studies and research with the purpose of trying to identify helpful and power influencing approaches. I have identified three powerful tactics that may fit that purpose. These tactics I hope will be a good addition for your persuasive tool kit. Here they are for your review:

1. Always do your homework on the person and audience you are communicating with. If you can identify the majority of beliefs and needs of the audience you can shape your arguments to reinforce the beliefs and provide ways to be relevant in meeting their needs. You message needs to be relevant and targeted. Remember the message is not about you but influence the audience to think and act in new ways.

2. Be flexible and open because there  is no single way to influence or change people’s point of view. Being perceived as dogmatic or rigided in seeking support or trying to influence others will undermined your credibility and authenticity. Pushing to hard pushes people to be defensive and play the “the Yes But..game”

3, There are all sorts of ways language and right words  can communicate sincerity and authenticity . Here are some solid facts for you:

  • People usually judge that more details mean someone is telling  the truth, this creates creditable
  • We find stories that are relevant have more power and chance to connect. Thus you are more influential if the audience is on the same emotional level..
  • We even think more raw facts make unlikely events more likely. Thus you are are perceived as more believable.

Just providing more tangibility  can be enough according to a recent study by Hansen and Wanke (2010). Compare these two sentences:

A recent study by Hansen and Wanke (2010) indicated that “statements of the very same content were judged as more probably true when they were written in concrete language than when they were written in abstract language.”

Take a look at these two sentences:

  • “Hamburg is the European record holder concerning the number of bridges.”
  • “In Hamburg, one can count the highest number of bridges in Europe.”

Which sentence did you find more believable?  In Hansen and Wanke’s study, “Truth From Language and Truth From Fit,” participants rated the second sentence as more believable.  While there isn’t any more detail in the second sentence or any significantly different meaning, it is rated as more believable because “it doesn’t beat around the bush, it conjures a simple, unambiguous and compelling image: you counting bridges.”

Hansen and Wanke give three reasons why concrete language indicates truth:

  1. Since our minds process concrete statements quickly, we automatically associate quick and easy with true.
  2. It is easier to create mental pictures of concrete statements.  Easier to recall = seems more true.
  3. When something can be easily pictured, it just seems more likely.  Easily pictured = more believable.

What are the implications of this study on concrete language and truth for your life?  Fortunately, most of us don’t go through the day coming up with ways to manipulate and distort what we are saying in order to be perceived as trustworthy or believable.  Perhaps an underlying reason why simple concrete language is perceived as more truthful is because when we are telling the truth, we’re usually not over-thinking it – we just tell it as it is.

We all have different styles of communication, and some of us have a natural tendency to go into more detail when telling stories/recounting events than others.  As with everything, context is key.  When you are listening to someone’s story, be sure to take into account what you already know about this person, how they typically communicate, as well as any relevant facts.  If someone is feeling stressed,  overwhelmed, or rushed, they will relay information or tell a story quite differently than when they are relaxed and calm.

When in doubt, just remember: keep it clear, concise, tangible and compelling.

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