The Science of Reasoning with Unreasonable People

adam grant new york times ny Think Again The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know Option B Sheryl Sandberg armchair expert tim ferriss
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Adam Grant says that science shows the key to changing someone’s mind is helping people find their own motivations to change.

Adam Grant, organizational psychologist at the Wharton School and TED Talk guru extraordinaire, has some things to say about how you really change someone’s mind. (If you haven’t seen his TED talks on “The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers” and “Are You a Giver or a Taker,” watch and thank us later.) Turns out that science shows that “preaching and prosecuting typically backfire — and what doesn’t sway people may strengthen their beliefs.” In other words, trying to show people the error of their ways just causes them to dig in their heels and double down on their viewpoints, no matter how objectively misguided they may be.

But all hope is not lost. The key to getting someone to entertain another opinion (and possibly even adopt it), is asking questions, listening to understand, and helping to guide them to a new view by highlighting their own motivations. In the New York Times, Adam Grant states, “Instead of trying to force other people to change, you’re better off helping them find their own intrinsic motivation to change. You do that by interviewing them — asking open-ended questions and listening carefully — and holding up a mirror so they can see their own thoughts more clearly. If they express a desire to change, you guide them toward a plan.”

In a country with people with increasing polarization, this useful technique will come in handy. Read more at The New York Times.

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