Changing Someone’s World View

In negotiating or dispute resolution it is important to understand what facts and reasons someone holds. Where are they now? The idea is to take the person from where they are to some new observation of reality by connecting the two world views.

While it seems reasonable, using facts and reason seldom works.

We hold world views emotionally

Our personal conception of realty relies on our experience and our “received wisdom” — the things we believe without evidence. Each of us has a different set of factors.

If you want to change someone’s world view you will be forced to discover their experiences, how they interpreted them, and some idea of their received wisdom. It is not easy and you must be cautious about interpreting it through the lens of your own world view.

How to begin

If you want to persuade someone, you would like to know how they came to hold their beliefs. Especially the ones they hold subconsciously.

What do you know about the person’s background? Grew up in some other country, or some religion, or went to a particular school, came from a large or small family, came from a single parent home, family wealth or poverty, and many more will provide insight. Experiences teach.

Experiences are necessarily limited. You cannot live long enough to experience everything. I’ve heard that in our lifetime we experience about one in a 100 milion of the things we could experience. Nonetheless about 80% of worldview is based on those experiences. Knowing which mattered is important.

Once an experience has been lived through, it is interpreted for application to the future. Suppose a dog bit you when you were eight. Does that lead to fearing dogs, or learning better ways to deal with them?

How does the person interpret new information?. Logic is one way. Makes me feel good, another. Going with the crowd, yet another.

The shortcut

Learn what you can. Have them talk about their childhood, their business, their concerns for the future, and more and you will get a decent idea about what matters to them and why. Ask simple questions.

Suppose someone tells you they don’t like whole life insurance because it is always a bad deal. You might reasonably ask, How did you decide that? Suppose they say my father told me, or they read Morton Shulman’s 1966 book, “Anyone Can Make a Million.” Your first step is to agree with them. Received wisdom is not arguable. It needs context.

What was true in 1966 is different  today. People live longer, insurance products and underwriting practices have evolved. Smoker – nonsmoker rate split, and “universal life” for example. In the early 60s, Dr Shulman was right. Let me show you what’s different today and how the differences can help you reach your goals.

Failing to capture background leaves you butting your head on an emotionally held belief.

The takeaway

Context matters. You ignore it at your peril.

Logic won’t change anyone’s worldview unless you can attach it to some emotional need or want.

You must be unselfish to follow this path..

I help people have more retirement income and larger, more liquid estates.

Call in Canada 705-927-4770, or email

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