v) Turning Adversaries/Detractors/Resistors into Allies/Supporters/Champions of Change


The basis of turning people who disagree is to diagnose the causes of the fundamental disagreement before trying to persuade, ie what is driving your detractor's resistance?

Identify what aspect of your argument elicits the most pushback and the most emotional reaction.

Based on this, use 1 of 3 approaches

a) cognitive conversation (there is an articulated logical set of objections to your point of view; with no hidden agendas or emotional base)

To handle this requires sound arguments and a good presentation, ie

"...you want to prepare sound arguments that disprove the detractors objections......Use a logical framework and clear storyline to force the detractor to reassess their thinking..."

Laura Hung et al, 2020

Emphasise that you and the detractor are on common ground.

"...The goal is to show the person that, on an objective and factual basis, their initial stance on the situation isn't as reasonable as your argument......Be ready to mentally spar with them and come prepared with facts that backup aspects of your overall argument..."

Laura Hung et al, 2020

Need to be careful of

- introducing emotions into the discussion

- generalisation

- achieving agreement on a specific topic does not mean a conversion into an everlasting support

b) advocate conversion (person not persuaded by cognitive arguments and/or you have a poor relationship with them)

Need to

"...Invest time in personally learning about and building rapport with them......It's not about argument or presentation, at least initially, but understanding their perspective and why they might feel personally affronted..."

Laura Hung et al, 2020

By building an effective relationship alone, you can convert someone from being a detractor into an advocate.

However, you cannot rely on the relationship alone, your stands needs to be backed up by clear logic.

Need to be careful that you do not appear to be manipulating their situation; authenticity is pivotal, ie

"... Allow the other person to see who you are so that they can more fully understand your point of view..."

Laura Hung et al, 2020

c) credible colleague (a detractor's strong personal beliefs make them fundamentally oppose your proposal; these personal beliefs can stem from a combination of a person's up-bringing, personal history, cognitive biases, etc

"...makes its seemingly impossible for them to accept a decision, no matter what logical or emotional argument you throw their way. In these situations, there isn't much you can say or do to change their mind..."

Laura Hung et al, 2020

You have reached an impasse with the detractor.

This is best handled by bringing in a credible colleague to convince the  resistor, ie this can

"...force the detractor to disentangle who you are from what your argument might be and evaluate the idea based upon its objective merits..."

Laura Hung et al, 2020

"...it's critical to find the right colleague who could tactfully advocate for your position while maintaining a cordial relationship..."

Laura Hung et al, 2020

It is important that the resistor does not feel that the credible colleague has forced them to take your side.

Sometimes the most powerful ally is a converted resistor as they can exploit their past to good effect and have an personal understanding of a resistor's mindset.

Some examples:
- US President Nixon was a very strong anti-Communist politician yet he recognised Communist China
- union officials, who join management, bring a very strong understanding of how the 'grassroots' situation works in an organisation that traditional managers, trained in colleges and universities, would lack this experience.


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