Has Anyone Ever Changed Your Mind?

“I can’t think of a single case where anyone ever persuaded me to change my mind about anything.” I heard this recently on a very popular podcast. The show’s host, a very smart man with a background in economics, uttered that sentence, much to my bewilderment. 

His statement reminded me of an incident many years ago when someone told me he never tried to persuade anyone of anything. I’ll be frank, that was one of the dumbest statements I’ve encountered in a long time.

Let me be very clear; you try to persuade people every day and you are persuaded every day! No ifs, ands, or buts. 

Changing Minds isn’t Always Necessary

When I ask people for their definition of persuasion what I hear most often is to change another person’s thinking or to change their mind. 

I usually respond with, “Changing someone’s thinking may be a good first step but it may not be enough and it may not even be necessary.” For example, if you tell your child to clean their room, do you want them to look at you and say that’s a good idea? Do you care if they “believe” having a clean room is a good thing? Probably not. You only want them to clean their room, no matter what they think about it.

Another example comes from insurance, the industry where I used to work. If I told you about the dangers of distracted driving, I’m certain it would change your thinking about the issue. You would encounter information you didn’t know previously, you’d process that information, and it would change how you think about distracted driving. However, if you get in your car and continue to interact with your phone then I’ve not done anything to solve that problem. A change of thinking without the behavior isn’t much good in that case.

Then What is Persuasion About?

Changing someone’s conscious mind, or core beliefs, isn’t always necessary to influence them. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, then you’ve likely seen on a number of occasions my favorite definition for persuasion. It comes from Aristotle, the famous Greek philosopher who lived more than 2300 years ago. He told the world persuasion was, “The art of getting someone to do something that they wouldn’t ordinarily do if you didn’t ask.”

Think about that definition for a moment. It’s about getting someone to change their behavior in a way they probably would not in the absence of your communication. Let’s face it, the people you interact with have their own priorities, goals, agendas, and other things they’re focused on. And yet, quite often you need those people to do things for you. How you communicate can make all the difference between hearing yes, getting them to take action, or hearing no.

Can Persuasion Lead to Lasting Change?

When I want someone to bring me in to speak, return a phone call, buy a book, or any number of other persuasive interactions, I’m not necessarily concerned with changing their core beliefs. 

Sometimes persuasive attempts lead to lasting changes like that. For example, I was a competitive bodybuilder for several years after college. I loved the gym and hated running. But when my friend Jud persuaded several of us that we should run the Columbus Marathon I gave running a try. I fell in love with it! Now, given the choice between lifting weights and running, I choose running every time. Did Jud change my core beliefs by convincing me that running was better for me than lifting weights? No, but he persuaded me to try an activity that did ultimately change me to the core. Why do I write that? Because I see myself differently than I used to. 


Persuasion isn’t always about changing core beliefs. Most change in life is somewhat incremental. You do something new at the urging of another person then you start to view that new activity differently. And quite often, many other people and situations intervene along the way to further the change.

Maybe you cannot think of a time where someone said or did something that fundamentally changed you. However, you’d be foolish to think you’re unpersuadable. We’re all trying to persuade and being persuaded daily. 

Brian Ahearn is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach, and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by BookAuthority. His new book, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents, was an Amazon new release bestseller in several categories. 

 Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses on persuasive selling and coaching have been viewed by more than 370,000 people around the world.

2 replies
  1. Jeff Wasserstrom
    Jeff Wasserstrom says:

    Great post on how we are persuaded everyday and often may not even realize it. Or perhaps no one specifically persuaded us to do something or change our behavior. However, we may have emulated someone else’s behavior just because either we wanted to be like someone else or maybe just because we truly liked that behavior.

    I agree that this happens everyday. Think about the idea that we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with. As a result, those 5 people must have some “influence” on us and persuade us to be a certain way whether we are aware of it or not.

    As always, thanks for sharing. The whole process of influencing people is fascinating!

    Have a Terrific Tuesday!

    • Brian Ahearn, CMCT®
      Brian Ahearn, CMCT® says:

      Thanks for sharing Jeff. I find it fascinating all the things that impact our thinking that we seldom consider – sights, sounds, smells, situations, surroundings. All of those can be a difference maker in the choices we make.


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