How do you give someone who has committed themselves to a bad cause a way out? You don’t do it by beating on how stupid they are …
From How to Build an Exit Ramp for Trump Supporters (Deepak Malhotra)
- Don’t force them to defend their beliefs … you will be much more effective if you encourage people to reconsider their perspective without saying that this requires them to adopt yours.
- Provide information, and then give them time … change doesn’t tend to happen during a heated argument. It doesn’t happen immediately.
- Don’t fight bias with bias … the one thing you can’t afford to lose if you want to one day change their mind: their belief about your integrity. They will not acknowledge or thank you for your even-handedness at the time they’re arguing with you, but they will remember and appreciate it later, behind closed doors. And that’s where change happens.
- Don’t force them to choose between their idea and yours. … you will be much more effective if you encourage people to reconsider their perspective without saying that this requires them to adopt yours.
- Help them save face…. have we made it safe for them to change course? How will they change their mind without looking like they have been foolish or naïve?
- Give them the cover they need. Often what’s required is some change in the situation—however small or symbolic—that allows them to say, “That’s why I changed my mind.” … For most people, these events are just “one more thing” that happened, but don’t underestimate the powerful role they can play in helping people who, while finally mentally ready to change their position, are worried about how to take the last, decisive step.
- Let them in. If they fear you will punish them the moment they change their mind, they will stick to their guns until the bitter end. This punishment takes many forms, from taunts of “I told you so” to being labeled “a flip-flopper” to still being treated like an outsider or lesser member of the team by those who were “on the right side all along.” This is a grave mistake. If you want someone to stop clinging to a failing course of action or a bad idea, you will do yourself a huge favor if you reward rather than punish them for admitting they were wrong…You have to let them in and give them the respect they want and need just as much as you.
If you’re a Vikings fan feuding with your brother-in-law from Green Bay feel free the break all these rules. If you’re worried about the future of civilization you might try this instead.
For #5, saving face, look for something they could have been right about. To a climate changer denier, agree that solar output varies. To a Trump follower, agree that the bleak future of the non-college adult wouldn’t have gotten attention without his focus.
I’m adding this recipe to the Notes collection I carry on my phone.