How to Persuade Others Using Gentleness and Patience
Persuading others to see things our way isn’t always easy. No matter how enthusiastic we are about our ideas, motivating others to follow our lead can be like pushing a boulder up a hill. Sometimes, we’re tempted to force matters when we don’t have “buy in” to bring about the changes we want to see. We can expend a great deal of energy trying to convince others to go along with our plan and allow us to lead. Impatience, frustration, and ambition can make for difficult interactions with people who are not open to the changes we propose, don’t see things our way, and don’t wish to follow us or embrace our vision.
What can you do when others don’t share your passion or perspective, when resistance to your ideas is taking its toll on you? Often, it’s best to wait until the timing is right and circumstances change. Some of those you wish would change their minds may need more information, or more time to adjust to your ideas. They may need some reassurances. If you listen carefully, you may find they have helpful insights into potential problems you may be overlooking in your zeal to move forward at full speed. Especially when you are trying to enact change that involves a large group of people, or a group or institution that has many rules and traditions, you can find it hard to convince others to move as quickly as you would like them to. It’s good to remember there are advantages to operating slowly and thoughtfully, and that often, you are well served by slowing down rather than forcing change upon those who resist it.
Perhaps you can bring about a good-enough outcome by going with the flow and offering guidance to those reluctant to move forward rather than taking the helm to force your way through whitewater rapids. These “rapids” might include challenges such as new skills that people would have to attain, new knowledge they would need to acquire, and new resources that have to be brought into the organization. Your priorities may not be other people’s priorities. Forcing matters may simply make them feel unheard and disrespected. Patience and a gentler approach may be needed.
Maybe the change has to begin with you: You may need to learn something new, join others in developing new skills, or take a different tack. While change is hard, sometimes, it is you that is making it hard by trying to force change on others. So if you’re meeting resistance to what seem to you to be great ideas for changing a situation for the better, slow down. Ask yourself why you feel it’s so important to move ahead immediately and get others to change their minds. Is it possible that you’re letting your anxieties or fears get the better of you? What is the rush? How much progress would be enough for you to be able to release your frustration and be satisfied with the pace of change? Very often, you can be better off taking a gentler route, knowing you’ll get into calmer waters eventually.