There are a lot of sales people focused on convincing their customers. Somehow they believe they can make their customers buy, make them choose them, if only they do the right job in convincing the customer.
All sorts of techniques are used to try to convince the customer. It may be overwhelming them with information and data supporting what you are trying to convince people to do. We will provide references, case studies to support our arguments. We will reinforce that with incentives or discounts. We may leverage our relationships.
Sometimes we think we have convinced people, when all we have really done is reinforced something they already believed.
Implicit in the act of convincing our customers is that somehow they must be wrong, and we are right. They are looking at things incorrectly, and we want to show them how to do it correctly. They are not considering something important, they are missing something,
They are wrong, we have the right answers. Even if they are, nothing we say will get them to change their minds—until they decide for themselves.
We can’t change people’s minds, only they can change their minds. In fact, the more we try to change their minds, the more likely they are to solidify their position–perhaps doing just the opposite of what we want.
The only thing we can do is determine if they are open to rethinking.
If they aren’t, we are wasting our time and theirs. We are just solidifying their current thinking.
To get them to change, we have to help them find some reason to consider changing. We have to help them open up to considering other alternatives or points of view.
How do we do this? It’s starts with listening! Not listening for what we want to hear, but listening to really understand their motivations and goals. Our scripts generally don’t enable us to do this. Only a genuine interest in the person to understand what drives them, how we might help them achieve their goals. We have to listen deeply.
As we listen and probe, we discover can begin to get clues to what might cause them to considering something new. We can discover what would cause them to consider other alternatives.
Until they open themselves to considering other approaches, to thinking differently, we cannot engage them effectively.
We cannot change their minds, only they can. But we can help them open up and consider changing, and then we can help them learn and consider a new approach.
As managers and leaders, we face the same issues with our people. Regardless what we say or tell them, until they open themselves to thinking differently, we are not going to change behaviors.
It’s not our job to change people’s minds. It’s our job to understand their thinking and explore if they might be open to rethinking.*
*Paraphrased from Adam Grant. He has just released a fantastic new book, Think Again, The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know. I’m only about 75 pages in, but it’s outstanding—causing me to think differently.
Afterword: It’s also good to understand the concepts of Mindsets–closed mindsets versus open/growth mindsets. Carol Dweck’s “Mindset” is the best resource I know for this.