“Values and beliefs are very deep structures and even intensive methods [such as brainwashing] can be insufficient to irreversibly change them.”
~David Straker, Changing Minds – In Detail.
Seeking to change people against the flow of themselves is fraught with danger, relationally. So, then, why do we even try to do that, husband, wife, employee, manager or pastor?
These deep-seated structures—values and beliefs—are core to the people in our midst and they seem to hold them for their whole lifetimes. So, how do we work with these people in the ‘world of influence’ i.e. when we have a role to influence others for their and our own good; for the “team” goal?
The answer, I think, is to go against the whole matter of trying to influence. Our success depends mostly on the trust we have with people; how much they respect us, and us them. When we achieve these interpersonal results of positive rapport, and these people know our goals—as we seek to create influence, they will tend to want to align. We create alliances beyond the goals at hand; the bonds are stronger than the task within reach.
Changing minds comes notionally as a result of perhaps seeking the opposite—a totally rampant acceptance of peoples’ precious individualised viewpoints.
How is it that we can achieve such an entwined purpose when we’re not seeking the goal itself? Perhaps it gives some credence to the fact that everyone’s values and belief systems inherently reinforce this one thing:
Everyone wants to be treated authentically, with respect and devoid of another person’s agenda. Everyone wants others to achieve their innate opinions.
Everyone genuinely requires acceptance to truly thrive—in any situation, and yet this acceptance is quite simply the easiest thing to give. We only have to think passionately of the other person. But how many struggle to get beyond their own needs?
As a leader or a person of influence, surely it is others we’re in it for. Unfortunately, however, this is not always the case, and this is when we will get it all wrong. Achieving results against the grain is not only not enjoyable, it simply doesn’t work—not with sustainability in the long run.
We must start to trust people’s base values and beliefs without casting aspersions (either positive or negative) and seek to not change them. Other people’s values and beliefs are so very “them” they have nothing to do with us. Even if they did, we couldn’t change them.
We can only accept this.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.