The first thing to understand about people is this: As humans, we do not like to listen to anything that doesn’t fit into our belief system.
If you’re Republican, for example, then you probably don’t like listening to CNN. And if you’re Democrat, then you probably don’t like listening to FOX.
This tendency that people have to only look at information that reaffirms their belief system, and to dismiss anything that doesn’t fit into that belief system, is what’s known as confirmation bias.
In the book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” Robert Cialdini says,
“There is no question about it. The drive to be (and look) consistent constitutes a highly potent weapon of social influence, often causing us to act in ways that are clearly contrary to our own best interests.”
Cialdini is talking about our tendency to not change our mind, which can make it difficult to communicate your ideas to people who don’t share the same beliefs as you do.
This is why it’s easy for politicians to appeal to those who share the same political affiliation as they do and convince them as to why they should agree with them. What’s difficult for politicians to do, however, is figure out how to appeal to those who already have a bias not to agree with them.
This is the difficulty of communicating to those who agree with you vs those who don’t.
What this mean is, whether you’re a marketer, a writer, or a politician, you can no longer force people who don’t resonate with your message, products, or ideas, to pay attention to you.
If someone doesn’t agree with you, then you have to figure out how to communicate your message in a way that will open them up to listening to you.
This means that you have to learn to frame your message in a way that aligns with someone’s beliefs. If you don’t do this, then your idea will be ignored.
Politicians are masters of using frames to tell their stories.
For example, saying “firearm safety” is different from saying “banning guns,” but both phrases are used to advance political agendas.
In the same way that calling someone a “fanatical right wing fundamentalist” is different from “people of deeply held beliefs.”
The ability to open the door to people’s attention by figuring out how to tell your story in a way that will resonate with people, instead of fighting people, is what’s really essential in communication.
This doesn’t mean you should just tell people only what they want to hear so that they agree with you.
This isn’t what I’m talking about. Instead, communication is about telling your message in a way that will spread to people who are open to being convinced of something new.