The problem: You are more than ready to drastically alter your life in order to live your purpose, but your loved ones just don’t get it.
Depending on your relationships, getting your key people on board with your new lifestyle will either be seamless or one of the more difficult challenges you face. Folks don’t universally come equipped with big vision goggles. In fact, most of us have probably partnered with a more rational person to help balance out our weirdness.
You must approach your “rational and responsible” friends and family armed with the right tools to communicate on their level. Remember, even you weren’t always aware of the big picture.
Cialdini’s 6 Principles of Influence
Let’s start by developing the skill of persuasion, adapting proven principles to bringing your stubborn “responsible” people around. In this quick animation Dr. Robert Cialdini introduces us to each:
Now, let’s apply these ideas to your responsible allies who currently see you as a little bit crazy with the goal of opening their eyes to the possibilities before you both.
Treat your responsible other how you want to be treated. You want them to be open-minded to your ideas, be willing to try them on for size, and communicate openly with you about their concerns so that a dialogue can take place. If you approach them with your big ideas abruptly, without warning, and already armed to the teeth with comebacks to their likely objections, you will likely fail. Let’s do this different:
- Gently inform your person that you have something important to discuss and that, while you recognize it might seem crazy, you would really appreciate their help.
- Be relaxed. This is not a pressure cooker. Share some stories about how you came to your ideas and how they resonate with you emotionally.
- Give them a brief intro and then shut up. Listen. Show non-verbal cues that you are truly thinking over their comments and wait 30 seconds before you respond.
- Start your response by empathizing, “I can understand how this is different than what we planned, and that’s hard to absorb.” Don’t be in a rush to convince them.
Ask for a small, reasonable commitment first, then work up to the bigger idea. Instead of expecting your loved one to jump on a plane to New Zealand to start your new surf shop tomorrow, start by asking them to read a book that helped you realize the possibilities. This is a small, reasonable request and primes them for future support.
Don’t be the sole weirdo trying to convince your person that quitting your job and starting a mobile DJ business is a good idea. You need to know a few other big idea people who have pulled this off. Introduce them to your people. Even better? Introduce their responsible people to your responsible people so that they can talk to someone who had the same fears.
Your people need to like you in order to support you. And while your people probably love you deep down all the time, they need to genuinely like you in that moment when you are asking for their support. How have you been treating them lately? Do you listen to them, show empathy, and go out of your way to make their life better?
If you ask to quit your day job in order to build orphanages for children in Uganda based on an emotional whim, the answer will be “NO.” Do your research, anticipate the risks and concerns, and present a strong case. Demonstrate over time to your responsible loved one that you are dedicated and focused, that this is definitely not a flight of fancy. Partner up with someone who has already done this successfully to ease anxiety.
Help your rational person understand the unique benefits of this change to them and what they might miss out on if you don’t take a shot at it. This can turn into, “We will be millionaires, you don’t want to miss out on yachting in the Caribbean do you?!?” Don’t manipulate or amp up the potential benefits or the missed opportunity. Keep to the genuine and reasonable; remember who you are talking to here.
These principles all align into a basic six-step process:
- Begin the conversation without pressure or defensiveness.
- Ask for a small commitment.
- Introduce them to like others who have seen the other side.
- Treat your person with respect and compassion.
- Demonstrate that you are equipped to be successful.
- Connect them to the unique benefits and what they could miss out on.
If you want to learn more, pick up Cialdini’s book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.