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19 Ways To Move People To Action Like Gandhi Did

19 Ways To Move People To Action Like Gandhi Did

I have just finished reading Gandhi’s autobiography. Gandhi’s persuasion achievement was bringing all Indian leaders together in his Satyagraha movement – non-violent non-cooperation. How did he do this?  How did he bring together different religions, different regions, different dress codes under one umbrella movement?

How Did Gandhi Move People To Unified Action?

Gandhi wasn’t interested in being “right”, he was interested in achieving his objectives. He never got caught up in debating games, and remained clear on his big objective. Aristotle described the objective of persuasive argument as being to move people to action, not to be right. This is a vital distinction. The arguments in a persuasive speech need to be enough to move the audience, not just to demonstrate total logical correctness. Gandhi was never interested in just being right – he was interested in progress.

Without action, you aren’t going anywhere.

– Gandhi

Gandhi’s highest value was Ahimsa, the principle of nonviolence towards all living things. His specific aim was to remove systematic mistreatment of poor people (specifically by corrupt hierarchical officials) and to protect those who could not protect themselves.

So how did he do it? With the following 19 strategies, which you too can utilize:

1. Understand Human Nature

People don’t resist change, they resist being changed. Most people take some time to change their mind – allow them to change at their own pace, don’t get angry and aggressive if it takes a little time. All ideas must face some resistance.

2. Avoid Preaching

An ounce of patience is worth more than a tonne of preaching.

– Gandhi

You need to provide the minimum arguments and evidence to move people to take some action. You don’t need to convert them to your cause for life. Don’t push for too much.

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3. Listen

Honest differences are often a healthy sign of progress.

– Gandhi

I believe that nobody ever does anything really stupid – everyone has their own reasons. Each of us sees the world in a way that makes our current action valid. What are others seeing that you are not seeing? What are they not seeing that you do see? Communicate your differences.

4. Seek to Understand

It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.

– Gandhi

Ask lots of questions.  Seek to understand the world view of the others. Seek to reflect back to them what they are seeing, how they are feeling, who they trust.

5. Stay Calm

Nobody can hurt me without my permission.

– Gandhi

The sure way to block change is allowing emotions to get out of hand. The moment that emotions become strong, blood flow reduces to the frontal cortex and people get locked into an animalistic fight or flight mode.  If you aim to change, you need to speak to the frontal cortex – make sense and stay calm.

6. Let Go Of Details

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.

– Gandhi

Don’t get stuck in a fight over every single issue. Accept some issues as complex and move on to the ones where you can make it simple and clear. Sometimes a shift back to the agenda, or asking a big overall question to raise the level of the debate out of a small issue is the best course of action.

7. Celebrate Those That Already Agree

Who is already with you? Raise their status and let the world know that you are proud to have them on your side.

8. Accept The Fence Sitters

The great majority are probably sitting on the fence. Acknowledge that they are wise, that it is good that they take their time to decide. Accept that they may have some valid concerns about your proposal. Be more passionate about the importance of choosing a good path than about the path you propose.

9. Love the person, attack the argument

An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.

– Gandhi

And those who argue against you? The hostile audience members? Learn to love the person and attack the argument. The person who questions your view will help you clarify your own reasoning.

10. Really Know the Person

See the good in people and help them.

– Gandhi

There is a an expression in the world of chess: that you can learn more about Grandmaster Kasparov by studying Karpov, his great rival. Our enemies hold us to the highest standards. Get to know them. Get to see the world from their point of view. If you don’t understand something, there might be an area that you are blind to. Be very careful of dismissing out of hand arguments that you can’t “get” yet.

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11. Stay Humble

Change yourself – you are in control.

– Gandhi

This is not about one side winning and the other side losing, this is about groups working through a process to improve the answer. Use the process to improve your case, to improve your own understanding of its pros and cons – do not celebrate victory, enjoy the path to greater clarity.

12. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

Repeat your simple, clear arguments over and over. Do not expect the audience to get it because you said it once.

13. Use Next-Level Arguments

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.

– Gandhi

Audiences are wiser than I often initially think. They have already reflected on the simple arguments. People know that staying healthy is good, yet they still eat fat and don’t exercise. It is not knowing more about health that will make them take action, it is something deeper. Find that argument that speaks to the next, deeper level.

14. Acknowledge All Good Points

It gives you credibility when you accept the validity of the opposition’s good points. Your aim is to get action, not to show 100% rightness. Be open in accepting that they have a valid point when they do.

15. Frame Your Argument With Metaphors

Metaphors are a powerful shift of perspective. Find simple metaphors that work in the world of the audience. Debate is sailing, not driving a car. You can’t drive directly into the wind – you have too adapt to the conditions.

16. Tell Stories

When I was in debating club as a 16-year-old school boy, I would justify my losses as being due to stupid audiences – not because I was unable to communicate in a manner that reached them. Now I know that I wasn’t telling compelling enough stories. Stories are important to keep audiences engaged.

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17. Simple Personal Examples

Be the change that you want to see in the world.

– Gandhi

Gandhi always traveled in third class rail carriages. He could afford more, but he wanted to experience the real life of those he represented.

18. Stay Simple

As soon as you get complex, you lose. You might impress yourself, but you alienate the rest. If you can’t explain your cause to a child, you don’t understand it well enough yet.

19. Stay Trustworthy

We finish with trustworthiness, because it is the most important. Where there is no trust, the words will not be heard.

There was a time in South Africa when thousands of poor Indians were forced to move from a township because of plague. They stored all their wealth by burying it. They were worried about it being stolen and knew no other way to keep it safe. The only person they trusted was Gandhi. In the end his office accepted to take care of all their money. 60,000 rand was handed in to his office into his keeping. A huge sum for these poor people in the 1900s.

Gandhi consistently tested himself and practiced ever greater self-restraint as he grew older. Initially he practiced with his diet – constantly restricting his food to vegetables, then only raw fruits and nuts. His practice of self-restraint and consistent actions in favor of the poor allowed millions to trust his every word and see positive meaning in his every action.

The devil is the details. If I can’t trust myself not to eat dessert after dinner, can I trust myself in leadership? As the pies get bigger, you need to have greater and greater levels of self-restraint in order to be trustworthy.

Featured photo credit: Conor Neill via flickr.com

More by this author

Conor Neill

Professor of Leadership, President Vistage Spain

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Last Updated on February 11, 2020

17 Things Emotionally Strong People Don’t Do

17 Things Emotionally Strong People Don’t Do

Life is a series of stories, and each one of us has a unique story to tell. Billions upon billions of stories and no two are exactly the same. If the story of your life has been filled with more sad moments than happy ones, it’s time to change that. And the best place to start is within your head.

You have the power to create the life you want. One crucial skill that will help you get there is learning how to become emotionally strong. The good news is emotional strength is like a muscle: the more you use it, the stronger it becomes.

Once you believe you are strong emotionally, you will unconsciously act stronger than before and begin to take control over your emotional whims. – Senora Roy

In this article, you’ll learn how to be strong emotionally. Here’re 17 things emotionally strong people don’t do … so you can start creating the existence you’ve always imagined for yourself.

1. They don’t beg for attention.

Emotional strength means confidence, and confident people don’t need to constantly be the center of attention. They’re comfortable in their own skin.

2. They don’t allow others to bring them down.

Emotionally strong people ignore the haters and the naysayers. They weed these people out and surround themselves with positive people instead.

3. They don’t stop believing in themselves.

Somehow I can’t believe that there are any heights that can’t be scaled by a man who knows the secrets of making dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four C’s:

They are curiosity, confidence, courage, and constancy, and the greatest of all is confidence.

When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable. – Walt Disney

Soak up these amazing words from Walt Disney. Because belief is the most essential quality of emotional strength.

4. They’re not afraid to love.

Love is the force that transforms and improves the Soul of the World. – Paulo Coelho

People who possess emotional strength have experienced heartbreak. But it doesn’t hold them back … it makes them stronger. Just because you’ve been hurt doesn’t mean you should shut love out of your life. Open up your heart and embrace vulnerability. The love you find will be worth everything you go through to get it.

5. They’re not afraid of slowing down.

Sometimes you need to take a step back and slow it down when you’ve been pushing yourself too hard. Having drive is great but not at the expense of your health and well-being. Allow yourself time for reflection and relaxation.

6. They refuse to be a victim of circumstance.

Being emotionally strong means refusing to make excuses. Leave the past behind you and focus on getting a little better every day.

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7. They don’t have a problem saying no.

Saying no is one of the most important things you’ll ever learn how to do. Focus on your top priorities and say no to all the stuff that’s wasting your time.

8. They don’t back down from challenges.

Emotionally strong people see challenges as opportunities to grow and improve their life. Challenges happen for a reason. Only when we have overcome them will we understand why they were there.

9. They don’t do things they don’t want to do.

If you want to keep your emotional balance and sanity intact, do what you love. Get rid of baggage and commitments that are making you miserable.

10. They don’t forget that happiness is a decision.

Emotionally strong people know that happiness is a choice. They understand the things they need to really be happy. They choose a life of simplicity, productivity, and passion.

11. They don’t waste time.

Abraham Lincoln said,

“It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

Emotionally strong folks don’t waste time doing mindless crap. They live mindfully in the present, enjoying every day as if it’s their last.

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12. They aren’t afraid to ask for help.

Every single one of the great minds in history, from Einstein to Edison, had help along the way. You can’t do it all alone, and it takes an emotionally strong person to swallow their pride and ask for help.

Here’s How to Ask for Help When You Feel Silly to Do So.

13. They don’t hold themselves back.

Self-handicapping is a common trait among emotionally weak people. What this means is you make excuses and find ways to justify your inadequacies instead of finding ways to improve on them. If you want to change something, stop holding yourself back. Just start. Small victories lead to major changes.

14. They don’t mind working a little harder than everyone else.

The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Soak in these poetic words from Longfellow. Put in the work, and you’ll get the results you’re looking for.

15. They don’t overreact to things beyond their control.

Charles Swindoll said,

“Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”

Think about how many times a day you overreact to things that really don’t matter. When you start to feel your blood boil, take a deep breath and ask yourself, “Is this really worth getting stressed out over?” Ninety-nine percent of the time, you’ll realize the answer is no.

16. They aren’t content with a mediocre life.

Emotionally strong people don’t settle for mediocrity. They strive to achieve greatness.

17. They never, ever give up.

Being emotionally strong means staring adversity in the face, learning from your mistakes, and living to fight another day. I’ll leave you with this inspiring quote from Harriet Beecher Stowe:

When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.

Featured photo credit: Conner Ching via unsplash.com

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