From “How Minds Change: The Surprising Science of Belief, Opinion, and Persuasion” by David McRaney
“There is no superior argument, no piece of information that we can offer, that is going to change their mind,” he said, taking a long pause before continuing. “The only way they are going to change their mind is by changing their own mind – by talking themselves through their own thinking, by processing things they’ve never thought about before, things from their own life that are going to help them see things differently.”
He stood by a paper easel on which Laura had drawn a cartoon layer cake. Steve pointed to the smallest portion at the top with a candle sticking out. It was labeled “rapport,” the next smallest layer was “our story,” and the huge base was “their story.” He said to keep that image in mind while standing in front of someone, to remember to spend as little time as possible talking about yourself, just enough to show that you are friendly, that you aren’t selling anything. Show you are genuinely interested in what they have to say. That, he said, keeps them from assuming a defensive position. You should share your story, he said, pointing to the portion of the cake that sat on top of the biggest layer, but it’s their story that should take up most of the conversation. You want them to think about their own thinking.
The team tossed out lots of metaphors like these. For instance, Steve later said to think of questions as keys on a giant ring. If you keep asking and listening, he told the crowd, one of those keys was bound to unlock the door to a personal experience related to the topic. Once that real, lived memory was out in the open, you could (if done correctly) steer the conversation away from the world of conclusions with their facts googled for support, away from ideological abstractions and into the world of concrete details from that individual’s personal experience. It was there, and only there, he said, that a single conversation could change someone’s mind.