Our Page to Practice™ this month is Influencer: The Power to Change Anything (McGraw-Hill, 2008) by the same authors who wrote Crucial Confrontations and Crucial Conversations (Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler). Coincidentally, my husband, who is a high school social studies teacher, was reading this book at the same time as me. I couldn’t help but think of him – and a problem he is having trying to get his colleagues to think differently – while reading Influencer. Together, we have been trying to use the strategies presented in the book to tackle his problem.
One of the things that struck me the most about this book is its practicality. The strategies just make sense. For example, early on the authors point out that verbal persuasion rarely works to change people’s minds. In fact, others are likely to resist your attempts to persuade them, and will even hold onto their views despite massive amounts of data that disconfirm their beliefs. Yet we (meaning my husband) cling to verbal persuasion as a way to get people to change their minds. “If they would just see it my way … “If they would just look at the data that shows … “ I even use this tactic with my children – and then try it some more when it doesn’t work the first time.
Instead of verbal persuasion, the authors advocate using experiences to change people’s minds. Find one person in your organization – an opinion leader, or a person who others in your organization look up to – and get that person to try the new behavior. Once that person has had experience with the new behavior, he/she can lead by example. No more banging your head against the wall trying to get others to just listen to your point of view. Instead, create situations in which people can experience the benefits of the new behavior firsthand. And you only need to convince a few people rather than a hundred. Sounds a lot easier and is worth trying.