We rarely recognize that any interaction we have with another person influences who we are and what we do.
Someone might try to persuade you to change your mind about pending legislation or a decision at work.
And certainly if you vehemently disagree then you aren’t going to budge, or are you?
You’ve countless times found yourself saying: “I’m not going to change my mind.”
And there’s some truth to that on a macro level, you’re not likely to change sides.
But when you’re opposed you are more likely to double down.
When you lash out, even in calm rebuttal, to defend your position you increase cognitive dissonance. This bolsters your belief.
So what you often don’t realize is that you are affected by those that oppose you.
And don’t think this doesn’t come without a cost. After all, what if it is in your best interest to change your mind?
Do you know that each time you speak out or otherwise support a position that it becomes that much more difficult to reverse course?
Next time you’re debating with someone, keep in mind that if you want to keep all options on the table, at least for your own sake, that you might not want to debate at all.
As an added bonus, you now have a technique to influence the opposition. It might not be the way you hoped for, but certainly there might be a way for this to be used advantagesouly.
And the silver lining might be that you can bolster those that support your position simply by exposing them to the debate, thus strengthening their resolve.
Here are some other ideas I came up with:
- Knowing that dissonance leads to subconsciously doubling down, if you need to change your mind you can simply discount your beliefs as merely a reflection of having defended them many times and not necessarily a reflection of a superior position.
- Asking someone to play devils advocate can lead to them opening up to new ideas. Later remind them of what they said, praise them for the insight.
- If you have people on the fence push them to take a side.
- If you want A and people are wishy washy about A, defend B in such a way that you make B’s shortcomings obvious, without pointing them out yourself. When people jump on the shortcomings, mission accomplished. Later you can acquiesce and be a team player, amassing political capital for compromising when it’s really what you wanted all along.
I bet if you put your mind to it you’ll find creative ways to use this to your advantage, hopefully for the benefit of everyone.
At a minimum you’ll be able to better protect your own mind from inadvertent influence.