Changing Minds on Important Issues


I’m still thinking about Brexit. I’ve been thinking about the role of social media and how social networks contributed or didn’t contribute to the outcome of the vote.

For anyone else facing a big vote in, say, the next 4 months, who is worried about the potential result, I would say this: there are 2 things to learn from the Brexit vote.

1. There is little point posting your views into your own social network (ie the group of people you habitually socialize with on Facebook or Twitter) because your social network is  likely to think the same way you do. You are just reinforcing what your network already thinks, you aren’t changing minds.

2. You can’t rely on the fact that someone else out there is going to communicate the message you are interested in to the people outside your network – there isn’t a proactive “them” out there who are going to campaign and canvas, you can’t rely on politicians or activists to do that.

So if you have a message to get across how would you do that?

The podcast below from YANSS (http://youarenotsosmart.com)  is quite long but the first half hour is set up and you can get most of what you need for context from the description of the content in the podcast. It describes an approach to changing minds that delivers a 10% opinion change. Doesn’t sound like much does it? But in political science that kind of percentage change is incredibly exciting. That kind of percentage change can move election results.

The approach is called Deep Canvassing and it is about respectfully engaging with the other by exploring with them situations in their own lives that help them to empathise with your viewpoint. Respect is important, after all, even though political scientists get excited about the 10% that still means 90% won’t change their minds.

Here’s a quote from one of the canvassers,

“There is nothing you can tell this person that is going to change their mind…when we see facts and figures that don’t align with our opinions our gut instincts lead us to reject those opinions”

We like to believe that if we can just explain the facts, why then people will come round to our way of thinking. The truth is that emotions, feelings and experience carry way more weight.

Whether you are a strategist looking for new ways to engage audiences or a concerned citizen with friends/interest groups you want to influence I recommend you listen to this podcast.

 

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