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Part IV: Overcoming Resistance to Persua... > Overcoming Conflicting Audience Atti...

Chapter 21. Overcoming Conflicting Audience Attitudes, Values, or Beliefs

The problem of conflicting attitudes or beliefs is a common one when influencing others. It is so complex that the strategies listed below may not be sufficient, but they should help. Look for opportunities to use the following techniques. Check those you expect to use:

  • When it can be done tactfully, draw attention to the conflict itself. We all like to feel that we’re thinking and acting in consistent ways. Educating an audience about conflict between their actions and their attitudes, values, and beliefs is a powerful motivator. Audiences can be motivated to change their thoughts or actions when these items are clearly shown to be in conflict.

  • If the conflict is only an apparent one (that is, there is no real contradiction in attitudes, beliefs, or values to prevent the audience from supporting you) show them. This situation may apply especially to when the audience is unfamiliar or uninformed.

  • If the conflict can’t be resolved, can it be downplayed? Look for ways to minimize the importance of the conflict between different attitudes, beliefs, and values.

  • Look for authority figures to resolve the conflict. Are there respected individuals who support your position? Are there people in the same situation whose story can help the audience to change their position?

  • In some cases, dwelling on the conflict may cause an audience to delay or avoid a decision rather than resolve the conflict. This is particularly true when the audience feels no action or decision needs resolution. In these cases, your challenge is to stress the urgency of the situation to act clearly and/or quickly.



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