May 20, 2013 11:50 am

How can we improve our influencing skills?

Daniel Dennett, cognitive psychologist, shares some valuable life lessons in this useful extract from his new book  featured in The Guardian.  See number two, ‘Respect Your Opponent’, where he  cites social psychologist Anatol Rapoport’s guidelines for anyone attempting to influence an opponent.

Rapoport’s guide is definitely worth trying if you’re getting nowhere in trying to influence someone, particularly a ‘difficult’ person or when in a difficult situation.  His recommendations go against our natural impulse to tell the other person that they’re wrong and we’re right.  But that natural response is unlikely to be fruitful.

Instead, control those instincts.  Repeat back their point of view clearly so they feel understood; find and state any points of agreement; share any examples of how their argument has changed your own thinking, and only then, state your points of disagreement or criticism.

By attempting to bring the other person ‘on-side’, they’re much more likely to consider to your point of view.