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Checklist for persuasive communications

Before trying to change someone's mind, run down this checklist:

  • Am I challenging a deeply held prior belief?
  • Is that belief tied to the other person's identity?
  • What are the beliefs I share with this person?
  • What stories and jokes can I share that will get this person smiling? 
  • What are the rewards they could experience if they changed their mind?
  • What are options I could offer this person to experience or learn about the new position? 
  • How do I stimulate their curiosity and get them to fill in the gaps in their knowledge? 
  • What is the other person's mood? How risk averse are they? (Pessimistic people are more risk-averse.)
  • Who are generally respected people that are in favor of my position? 

Time: Why People Can't Agree on Basic Facts, 2017-Sep-19 by Tali Sharot

At a time when information is easily obtained and data is abundant, it is important to be acutely aware that it is people’s feelings, hopes and fears that play a central role in whether a piece of evidence will influence their beliefs. It is those aspects of human nature that our message needs to address to make a change in others — or in ourselves.

Eric Barker: New Neuroscience Reveals 7 Secrets That Will Make You Persuasive, 2018-Oct-8 by Eric Barker

Here's how to use neuroscience to be more persuasive:

  • Prior Beliefs: Don't start with how they're wrong, start with common ground. (You may disagree with me on this but we both want to get better at persuasion, don't we?)
  • Emotion: Make them feel and get your brains in sync. (Look! Smiling puppies!)
  • Incentives: Focus on rewards, not warnings. (Incentives will get you what you want, I promise.)
  • Agency: Give options, not orders. (Would you like to offer them two possibilities or three? Totally up to you.)
  • Curiosity: "Fill the gap" and focus on the positive. (The headline of this blog post was not chosen at random, my friend.)
  • State of Mind: If they're feeling down, present the conservative option. If they're feeling good, focus on the riskier upside. (Before I explain this further, how are you feeling today?)
  • Other People: Showing the popularity of your position helps. (Every smart person I know follows this rule.)

That's all the data you need to stop being reliant on data. We didn't have statistics and research thousands of years ago but people still convinced one another.