Have you ever been in a group discussion, disagreed with what someone is saying and felt a burning desire to ‘show them the light’? If so – and assuming you acted upon it – how did they respond?
I’m willing to guess not well. People are naturally distrustful of words, they are defensive and stubborn. Beliefs are shaped by experience and can harden into conviction. While your goal might be to influence someone to your school of thought, by arguing you may inadvertently be hardening their resistance.
On the surface, people may appear to agree with you, or at least listen to what you say. The reality is they are probably humouring you or waiting for their turn to speak. Argument is not an effective tool for influence and can have the negative effect of leaving you frustrated.
Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level, then beat you with experience.
If arguing doesn’t work, then how do you change someone’s mind?
First of all, be careful not to totally discount argument. Circumstances may arise when arguing can be beneficial, you may even consider intentionally losing an argument as a means of influence.
When you let someone else win an argument, often you both end up winners.
People need to come to their own conclusions
The single most effective method for influencing someone’s behavior is to lead them down a path in which they make their own decision. If they believe they came up with the idea themselves, the more successful you have been.