How Can You Change Made-up Minds - Part 2

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For those cases when you face people with made-up minds, we continue to give you some ideas to get unstuck and to get other people to change their minds. In part 1 we used some of the ideas of persuasion guru, Robert Cialdini.

Many powerful ways to change made-up minds use emotion. Business psychologist Peter Sullivan often explains that the word emotion can be written as e-motion and explains this as e is the electrical force that puts us into motion.

Emotion is the fast lane to the brain.
— Doug Stephenson

So, how can you use emotion in business? Mark Schenk and Shawn Callaghan of Anecdote, travel around the world giving business leaders tools to change their organisations with stories. Here are two practical examples



In the workshop Storytelling For Leaders, Mark Schenk introduces the idea of anti-stories. Anti-stories are the unofficial stories told by people in the organisation that may frustrate a leader's attempts to change. For example, just after a merger of two organisations a leader may proudly promote this will be a great opportunity for all employees and encourage employees to support the merger actively. One anti-story might be:


Two years ago, in the last merger, in the buying department, Tom and Jerry were working with the other company to find opportunities to save costs by buying smarter for both companies. They did this extra work during the day and then worked late to do their day job. For eight weeks they worked 80 hours a week. Then the company announced a reorganisation and made Tom and Jerry redundant.


This is a powerful emotional anti-story that will be difficult to combat. No matter how eloquent the leader, they will not change employees minds with just logic. Mark recommends using influence stories to combat anti-stories. First, you need to know what the anti-stories are. Ask employees 'what was the worst thing that happened in previous mergers'? Then decide what point you want to make against the anti-story.

Let's imagine your point is: in mergers, some people will always get noticed and become winners. Next, you need a story that shows how some people get noticed and become winners. Once you have the story then you need to use it in this way:

  1. Acknowledge the anti-story
  2. Share your story
  3. Make your case
  4. Make your point

How about telling a story something like this:


I am going to talk about the opportunities for everyone in the upcoming merger. I know that some people will talk about what happened to Tom and Jerry in the procurement department. That's one example of what could happen.

Here is another example, George the production manager and Vic the engineering manager in Perth worked with their colleagues in the other company to find opportunities to save costs. They too worked 80 hours a week for eight weeks. During this eight weeks, they got noticed by the company directors and were offered senior management positions in London. Since they have been in London, they have recruited two more people from here. This shows there are real opportunities in mergers.

It's obvious that George and Vic got noticed and were winners. While it may look like Tom and Jerry lost out, since its two years ago I can now tell you that both were noticed and were offered jobs in Melbourne. However, they didn't want to move their families, and after 30 years loyal service both preferred to be made redundant. They chose not to take those opportunities in the company and chose to get out. But that gave them both some money to take new opportunities outside the company.

This merger will give you the opportunity to get noticed and become a winner. I encourage you to grab the opportunities with both hands. Get involved.


Changing people's made-up minds is tough. Too tough to use PowerPoint. Stories are a powerful way to change minds. According to Blaise Pascal: People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they have themselves discovered than those which have come into the minds of others. Stories allow the listener to create their own pictures in their own minds, so they own the story. So, stories give people the chance to discover the reasons that will persuade themselves.

What's best about stories is that other people will keep retelling good stories. So, your message will keep travelling through your organisation changing more made-up minds.