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How to Change Anyone’s Mind

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How to Change Anyone’s Mind

People instinctively resist being forced to do things differently. Instead of pushing, try removing the barriers that stand in their way.

The Wall Street Journal,

5 min read
6 take-aways
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People can be stubborn, so introduce catalysts to prompt them to change.

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Persuading people to do your will can be challenging. Many people compulsively resort to stubbornness when they feel cajoled, sometimes even saying no in situations where they’d normally say yes. How, then, do you get someone to adopt your point of view? Marketing professor Jonah Berger dives into the heart of persuasion. His condensed set of tips offers a crash course in the gentle art of arm-twisting.


To persuade others, remove any barriers to their taking your desired position.

When trying to win others over, people frequently resort to pushing and cajoling. After all, if you want to move an object such as a chair, pushing frequently works. But this isn’t the best approach to influencing humans. When people feel cajoled, they instinctively push back.

Instead, take the friction out of getting the result you seek by adding a catalyst. Rather than coaxing or pestering people to do your will, ask yourself why they aren’t already doing so. Figure out what impediment is standing in the way, and remove it. Negotiators in a wide variety of fields leverage a set of five catalysts to inspire their subjects to change.

Make others feel empowered – not compelled – to pick your preferred option.

If people feel in control of their decisions, they are less likely to push back. Humans, by nature, will say no – even to something they want – if they feel bulldozed. Offer an array of choices so your subject can select the most attractive one, and use it as ...

About the Author

Jonah Berger is a marketing professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

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