Jonah Berger is a Professor at Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a world-renowned expert on change, word of mouth, influence, consumer behavior, and how products, ideas, and behaviors catch on. He is also the bestselling author of numerous books including a brand new one titled, The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone’s Mind.
How many times have you tried and failed to change someone’s mind about something, whether it was a family member, a coworker, a friend, or a boss? Jonah says it is because we are going about trying to change their mind in the wrong way. He says, “If you look at a chair in a room you are sitting in and you wanna move the chair, pushing that chair is often a pretty good approach, right? If you push that chair in the direction you want it to go, it often moves in that direction. But there’s one problem, when we apply that same notion to people which is that people aren’t chair. When we push physical objects, they tend to go, when we push people they tend to push back. Rather than changing, they often do the exact opposite of what we want. And so what the book is really about is, is there a better way? Could there be a different approach? And if you look to chemistry there actually is. There’s a special set of substances in chemistry that make change happen faster and easier. They don’t do it by adding more pressure or pushing harder. They do it by removing the barriers to change and those substances which you can probably guess are called catalysts.”
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Changing minds is about removing barriers that are preventing the change. In his book Jonah lists 5 key barriers to change.
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2. Endowment–We tend to feel attached to the way we already do things, and that makes it extremely hard to change our ways
3. Distance–When we are faced with ideas too far from our current way of thinking they tend to get ignored or we even potentially do the exact opposite
4. Uncertainty–It is easier to convince someone to make a change if you can find a way to help them experience the differences the change will bring. That way they can see the benefit for themselves
5. Corroborating evidence–Sometimes one person saying change is needed is not enough, you may need multiple sources to provide enough evidence for the change to take place.
So how can you start removing barriers to change in your life and work? Jonah says, “I
think the first thing is just to start by finding those barriers, identify those roadblocks, those
parking breaks. We tend to have barrier blindness, we tend to ignore them, but in case we don’t
know what they are, we can’t solve them. And so, really start by being more aware of what they are and discovering them. And only then, once we’ve discovered them, then can we solve them. I talked about five ones in the book. I think those are the five ones that come up again and again and again, but there are others, in different situations, people may experience others and so I would start by understanding those five and then look for others in your own situation.”
What you will learn:
Five key barriers that prevent change from happening and how to overcome them
How employees should approach leaders regarding change
How to move from making decisions based on fear to being more logical
How we can change our own minds