9 Ways To Change Someone’s Mind

by Carina Wolff

If you're passionate about a topic, you might find that you engage in a debate with someone on Facebook, only for it to end up in a comment war that ends up with some unfriending. Convincing someone of a point is difficult, but there are some genius ways to change someone's mind that are backed up by science. Instead of getting defensive or aggressive when it comes to proving your point, you might want to try your hand at some of these more effective tactics.

"When trying to change someone’s mind, we often lead with our own perspective and what the other person needs to do to change," says Dr. Stephanie Parmely, a psychologist with Dignity Health Medical Foundation, over email. "However, it’s best to take a step back and truly try to understand the other person’s perspective, validate his or her point of view, and then work with them to arrive at your desired outcome or solution. This more subtle approach is more likely to actually change the person’s mind."

Changing someone's mind is difficult, and one argument alone won't usually do the trick. But if you know how to make persuasive arguments and go about them the right way, you'll have a higher chance of successfully convincing someone. Here are nine genius ways you can change someone's mind, according to science.


Earn Their Trust


The more familiar the other person is with your values and the alignment between your values and your actions, the more likely that person is to trust you. "With trust comes the willingness to consider your viewpoint and be swayed by it," says Dr. Marlene Carosell, author of Principled Persuasion, over email. "Start earning a track record of proven reliability. If the situation does not allow for the establishment of such trust because of time limits, cite examples of how you have done what you’ve said you’d do in the past."

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Know Their Influences


"It’s really not about you," says Carosell. "If you want to change someone’s mind, you have to know what is important to that person. As certain as you are that your opinion is the right one, you need to be able to understand the other person’s possible objections."


Cite A Higher Authority


Cite a higher authority or precedent. "People are usually influenced by someone who is nationally recognized and respected," says Carosell. Referring to well-respected figures or to a comparable project being successfully executed elsewhere can be useful in your argument.


Go Out On A Verbal Limb


"If you are supremely confident about the worth of your idea, you can offer assurances that represent an iron-clad guarantee for your influencee," Carosell. For example, you could say something like "If the evaluations do not average 4.5 out of 5, then you do not have to pay me,” or "If this doesn't work, I'll bring doughnuts to the staff meeting for a whole month."


Make Them Feel Like It Was Their Idea


People are more likely to change their mind if they reach the conclusion for themselves, not because someone told them to. "In the conversation, get them to think about why they may want to change their mind or behavior," says Parmely. "One tactic that often works is asking them to actively list the pros and cons of changing their mind or behavior, because that allows them to realize the need for change and to take action on their own."


Compliment Them


People need to feel a sense of their own self-identity and worth, and when you question their beliefs, it feels like you're questioning their judgment. You can get around this by complimenting them or pointing out one part of their views that you agree with, according to Psychology Today. This affirmation makes it more likely for someone to consider your perspective.


Use Unique Language


Pay attention to your vocabulary when forming an argument, and look to make it different than that of your opponents. In a study done at Cornell University, scientists who studied the ChangeMyView forum on Reddit found that more persuasive arguments use words that are different from the original person's language.


Use Examples


The same study also found that persuasive arguments are supported by specific examples. It can be helpful to use phrases such as "For example" or "For instance." Definite articles such as "the" are also preferred over indefinite articles such as "a."


Speak Quickly


One study from the University of Georgia found that when speaking to someone who has opposing views as you, it can actually be more persuasive to speak more quickly. A fast pace doesn't allow the person to have time to think critically about your arguments. "So much of changing someone’s mind is in the way you position your questions or statements and the emotional tone of your voice, as well as your body language," says Parmely. "How you deliver your message can make someone more receptive to hearing you and changing their mind."