It's incredibly hard to shift someone's perspective to your point of view, but it's certainly not impossible. Harvard Business Review suggests finding someone's "OK Zone" and working from there.
Picture: Ben Ostrowsky/Flickr
We're all pretty deeply entrenched in our own ideas, and it's hard to see other points of view. Because of that, when someone's pitching us a new idea, we tend to reject it unless it's at least close to what we already believe. Harvard Business Review calls this the "OK Zone", where an idea is close enough to our own that we'll entertain it. Here's how they explain it:
If Brian's presentation started with a big slide proclaiming "All of you are biased" -- that is way outside of this engineer's OK zone. It's in her latitude of rejection -- or the "reject zone." This is the crucial point: When attitudes are too far from our OK zone, we not only don't buy them -- we actively retrench against them. We marshal all of our resources to oppose the person making the argument. If Brian started his presentation by proclaiming that everyone is biased, the engineer would likely respond by becoming even more committed to denying any bias in herself. If we want to change someone's attitude, first we need to understand where that person's OK zone is. We do this by asking questions to identify where they are on the attitude continuum right now.
So, to get someone to come over to your way of thinking, you need to find that zone, then provide information in incremental little bits before they're convinced. It's an interesting approach, and you can find a bunch of different examples for how this would work over at Harvard Business Review.
You Don't Have to Be the Boss to change How Your Company Works [Harvard Business Review]