How to Get People on Your Side

Aug 27, 2012
5 Min Read

Being able to build a following in your organization is important when you are working on innovation or dealing with change management. More often than not, it is beneficial to fully convince someone to change their attitudes toward your work or your idea—you don’t want them simply to go along for the sake of it, but to really believe in it and support you with enthusiasm. But changing an attitude is a longer-term process than simply getting someone to do what you want.

Here are six actions you can take that start the process of changing attitudes:

Emphasize Logic

If the person you are trying to persuade (your “audience”) is highly interested in the topic, has many opinions about it, and it is one that affects them personally, they are likely to be persuaded by logical arguments. Go into details and focus on the why’s/why not’s as the central point of your communication.

Emphasize Credibility and Organizational Politics

A less interested, a less invested audience will not be moved by logical arguments, but they are likely to respond to someone with credibility, or instructions that carry political weight in the organization. Their change in attitude may be temporary and weak, but it can be the perfect starting off point for more permanent change via one of these other methods. And if you sometimes feel you don’t have much credibility, work toward building it; an interesting thing about credibility is that it is more about perceptions than facts.

Sampling or Piloting

When someone commits to something, even if they are not 100% on board with it, they are more likely to experience an attitude change down the line. This is because our thoughts and our actions are very interrelated. What we think influences what we do; and what we do influences what we think.

Continued Effort

A one-time presentation is not going to be enough to change someone’s mind; this is especially true for someone who already has some strong opinions on the matter. Instead, orchestrate continued interactions that will chip away at the change in attitude you seek. Repetition is simple yet powerful; it tends to reinforce and enhance positive emotions about the argument.

Present a Two-Sided Argument

Don’t just approach people with a pro list why your chosen solution is the right one. Take it one step further and make an argument against the available alternatives. This is especially useful if the person you are trying to persuade might be already in favor of the alternative(s).

Snowball the Bandwagon

If you need to get a large group of people behind you, it may be efficient to evoke the, everybody’s-doing-it-peer-pressure effect. Persuade a small, yet powerful, group of people first, and then leverage their influence to get everyone else on board.  This can be risky venture if not well thought out, so only use after critical discussion and when it can be supported with logical arguments.

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