If the recent election has taught us nothing else, it’s taught us this: It’s nearly impossible to change someone’s mind about an important issue.
But if you’re reading this article, it’s likely you’re in the business of convincing someone that the work you do is important.
There’s a lot out there about the art of persuasion.
Today, we’re focusing specifically on how you approach someone who doesn’t believe environmental issues are important.
Here, some options.
1. Give them space.
Inundating someone who doesn’t believe the environment is important with literature, phone calls, spam mail, petitions and a litany of facts will really just alienate them even more.
You’ll become that annoying ex girlfriend. And everyone knows, the best way to get your ex back is to show them how great you are, and then target someone else.
2. Give them time.
You won’t be able to change their mind right away.
This means if you really want to sway someone to your side, you’ll have to dedicate some serious staff hours. And budget.
No one said the art of persuasion was cheap. Or easy. Or quick.
3. Get on social media.
Last week I talked about how social media won’t actually change anyone’s mind, so while your business needs a social media presence in today’s world, simply tweeting away might not be the best use of your time.
I mean… get on social media and use it as a research tool.
Find out where people who don’t believe in environmental issues hang out.
What are their main complaints?
Are they REALLY ignoring you specifically?
Or do they simply have too much on their plate and choose to devote their passion and time to something else?
4. Find out specific objections and start a list.
Once you do the research in Step #3, start a list.
If it seems like your opposition is genuinely not believing you, find out specifics.
Why not? Are your facts too obscure, your methods too sensationalist, your goals too self serving?
It may be they believe a religious apocalypse will destroy the earth before humans can, in which case, my advice is move directly to Step #9.
5. Ask your supporters for help.
Every supporter you have probably knows at least five people who don’t believe in your cause.
Ask for their help. Why do they think all their family and friends aren’t behind you too?
Not only will you gain some valuable research, you’ll also score a point or two with your supporters.
If there’s one thing that unites people of all beliefs, it’s that we love to give you our opinion.
6. Stay focused on your day job.
Converting non-believers can consume you. But don’t let it.
For one thing, those people who are constantly trying to convince others that their beliefs should be yours are annoying.
For another thing, you have an important job to do, and doing it well is the best way to convince anyone that your cause is a worthy one (see Step #1).
7. Get them alone.
I don’t mean corner them at the next convention or, God forbid, go knocking on their door.
But people are more likely to listen to new ideas when they have some space from the people who think just like them.
Crowds can be super powerful, but they can also turn against you.
Changing minds is a very personal process, and it’s not likely to happen surrounded by people who are stuck in their ways.
8. Figure out if they’re really worth it.
Your time is the most precious commodity you have.
Getting someone to see that your environmental cause is worthy is a marvelous undertaking, but not everyone will be converted.
Are your resources best spent on this person?
Changing the mind of a Baby Boomer might take some significant effort, whereas you might be able to visit a middle school and convince an entire auditorium of kids (in direct opposition to what I said in Step #7…).
9. Ignore them right back.
I don’t mean to end this article on a negative slant, but this is oldest school-yard trick in the book.
You simply can’t win over the whole world.
Be assured that the good work you do is being appreciated by the people who are really hearing you and move on.
Who knows? You may just prove to the non believers you have bigger work to do than try and convince them your work is worth it.