Think about something that you’re passionate about. Have you ever tried to persuade someone to come around to your way of thinking, and failed?
The key might be to stop trying to make them share your motivation.
Imagine this situation: You’re an environmentalist desperately worried about the rape of the world’s forests in pursuit of profit.
You lie awake at night, imagining the lungs of the Earth gasp in long, painful shudders. You stress over the rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in the desperate knowledge that if there were only more trees, carbon would be trapped and oxygen would come spewing out. We’d be saved.
You evangelise, you beg, you plead, attempting to bring people around to your way of seeing things.
But will they listen? Will they hell.
However, the next door neighbours like sitting out in their garden. They’ve spent considerable time getting it just so.
But there’s a problem. The garden gets beset by the worst kind of tiny biting midges, more and more each year.
They’re not really worried about the fate of the planet. What they’re worried about is being eaten alive in their own back yard.
And that’s how you as the passionate environmentalist can persuade them to plant trees. Trees provide spaces for birds to nest, to sit in and to dart out from in pursuit of a stomach full of free-range flies.
They don’t share your motivation, but the trees get planted anyway.
Of course, the person you really want to be is the garden centre manager talking to the environmentalist about saving the planet, and the gardeners about providing a solution to their midge problem.
You don’t share their motivations either (you just want to sell stuff), but everyone goes home happy at the end of the day…
This post was inspired by a seminar given by Rory Sutherland at Marketing Week Live 2011 on behavioural economics. Thanks for the jump-off, Rory!