Tackle resistant problems with personal experience

Most nonprofit executives are familiar with those persistent and pesky problems within their organizations that never seem to go away. Despite your best efforts to deal with the problem or the people involved, when the problem doesn’t go away, most people give up trying to make change happen because they believe it’s too difficult, if not impossible.

The most common tool we use to change others’ behavior is the use of verbal persuasion – but when it comes to resistant problems, verbal persuasion rarely works. Instead, personal experience is much more effective. Try to help people experience the world as you experience it. When you can’t create personal experiences, create vicarious experiences. This is one of the most accessible influence tools any influencer can employ.

Become a storyteller

According to the bestselling authors of Influencer, to exert influence, we need to be good storytellers. We can use words to persuade others to change their minds by telling a story rather than lecturing them. The following characteristics of storytelling make some stories more powerful tools of influence than others:

Understanding. Every time you try to convince others through verbal persuasion, you struggle to select and share language in a way that reproduces exactly the same thoughts you are having in the mind of the listener. You say your words, but others hear their words, which in turn stimulates their images, their past histories and their overall meaning. A well-told narrative provides concrete and vivid detail rather than terse summaries and unclear conclusions.

Believing. People oftentimes become less willing to believe what you have to say when they know that your goal is to convince them of something. This natural resistance stems from a lack of trust. First, people may lack confidence in your expertise and, second, they may doubt your motive. Concrete and vivid stories are influential because they transport people out of the role of critic and into the role of participant.

Motivating. People must actually care about what they believe if their belief is going to get them to change their behavior. If emotions don’t kick in, people don’t act. When they’re told well, stories stimulate genuine emotions.

Read more about Influencer: The Power to Change Anything by subscribing to Page to Practice™ book summaries or visit the CausePlanet summary store. Learn more about Influencer by Joseph Grenny, Kerry Patterson, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan and Al Switzer.

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