Whilst it isn’t possible to fundamentally change other people, there are subtle ways to bring others around to your way of thinking. Here’s how…
1) Figure out how open to change they are
We all sit somewhere on the “cycle of change”. The different phases are – precontemplation, contemplation, decision, action to change, maintenance and lapse. The further they are along the cycle relating to a particular subject, the more easily they will respond to influence. (see below).
For example – if you would like someone to give up smoking, identify whether they are at the precontemplation stage (they haven’t even considered giving up at all) or whether they are further along – they are thinking about it (contemplation), they are in preparation phase (buying patches or looking up a hypnotherapist, for example) and so on.
2) Mirror their motivation to change
Matching and reflecting a person’ level of motivation builds empathy. Meet them at their level and offer support. If a person is at the precontemplation phase and has not yet begun the process, drawing attention to the negative consequences of their behaviour will help to move them forward to the contemplation stage.
3) Develop discrepancies to push move change forward
This occurs when we show the other person how their behaviour is inconsistent with how they would like to see themselves. Do they see themselves as kind, healthy, generous and fair? How does their behaviour deviate from this?
4) Emphasise the benefits of change
Reinforce the costs to them if they don’t change and the benefits of they do. Show them what’s in it for them. Help them to overcome hurdles and help them to keep a clear goal of where they want to be.
5) Be patient and tolerant
Ensure that you separate behaviour from the person. When someone feels they will only be accepted once their behaviour has changed, it can cause them to relapse or be less motivated to change. Let the other person now they are worthy and valued with or without the required behaviour. Be supportive and patient as many people lapse at times when it comes to change.
Everyone can change, once the seed is planted it is important to keep ‘watering’ it. Most people want to improve and grow and be a better version of themselves. Work in the ideals of a future person who is happier and healthier and find ways to show the person you wish to influence how their life could be better if they made the changes. Changes that will only benefit you and not the person you are trying to persuade will usually fail. It has to be a win-win situation.