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How To Change People’s Minds: Show Them The Whole Picture Instead Of Proving Them Wrong

How To Change People’s Minds: Show Them The Whole Picture Instead Of Proving Them Wrong

Human has the ability to think and that’s what makes our world creative. But owing to such diversified thinking, sometimes it is inevitable for us to come across disagreement.

It can be great or small, such as colleagues debating corporate strategy, family members discussing holiday destination, or friends arguing what to eat for dinner. Sometimes you win an argument but sometimes you don’t.

Despite the fact that disagreement happens from time to time, it is important for us to learn the art of persuasion because if we are unable to persuade, we can only be the influenced but not the influencer. Sometimes we need to compromise but sometimes we need to be recognized. If our ideas are constantly rejected, then things never happen as we wish.

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Why we always fail to persuade?

It can be frustrating if our ideas are better but they are not adopted just because we lack the skills to persuade. But many of us make this mistake unknowingly–When we argue or discuss with others over an issue, we tend to take the shortcut to prove them wrong logically and at the same time we are right. This might work occasionally, for those who are rational and less emotional. But apparently not everyone is rational, at least not always.

Even if we have convincing arguments, proving others wrong is kind of explicitly telling others to change their minds. This often put them in an embarrassing situation because they have to admit that they are wrong.

The backfire effect: corrections always fail

It is compatible with the backfire effect suggested by Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler at The University of Michigan and Georgia State University. [1] One of their research was designed to explore why people insist on their political misperceptions when others try to correct them.

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It shows that corrections actually enhance misperceptions among the group in question. In other words, corrections have no use. People who are being corrected in fact reject the ideas from those who hold different beliefs.

Persuade by showing the whole picture

Knowing that changing people’s minds is such a difficult work, we might want to try something suggested by the authority. Blaise Pascal, a 17th-century French philosopher, wrote the famous classic Persuasion long before psychology was invented. His idea is later proven by modern psychologists, Arthur Markman.Pascal suggested that the surefire way to change others’ minds is to show them the whole picture instead of proving them wrong as the two simple steps listed below:

  1. Acknowledge the validity of the other’s point of view
  2. Lead them to discover the other side of their argument

There should be something valuable in everyone’s point of view. So first you should recognize their contributions and admit what they are right about. Then, you should gradually reveal the other side to them, which is the part they have not observed. The following scenario might help you better understand the idea:

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Imagine you are thinking what to eat for dinner with your friends.A: I’d like some burgers. I’m starving.(But you want something else.)You: Well…  Burger might be good. What about pizza? It can also make you feel full. Plus you might have more options in the Italian restaurant.

After all, everyone has some blind spots and many people realize that. They won’t be offended by such persuasion approach because they feel like they only fail to see all sides instead of mistaking. Also, people are generally better persuaded by reasons they discover by themselves than by those implemented by others.

Give suggestions instead of commands

Such approach also allows you to better hide your intention to persuade. That’s why you should also pay attention to your tone when speaking to them. You need to play the role of a guide instead of an instructor. You should be guiding them instead of enforcing authority, raising questions instead of making judgements. Others will feel better and consider what you want them to think about if you sound more friendly and suggestive.

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A successful persuasion cannot be achieved only by strong and valid points. To make people let their guard down, you also need some techniques. So don’t let others bury your brilliant ideas. Be brave to speak them up and be smart to showcase them.

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Sheba Leung

Translator. Sport lover. Traveler.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

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