How to Make Your Opponent Do What You Want Him to Do: Part I

I’m blogging from the Stanley Hotel — hence the Stanley Steamer — in the Rocky Mountains — hence the snow.

Stephen King wrote the Shining here, not in my room, but right down the hall.  The book was Inspired by the Stanley.  Hence the picture of Jack.

What’s most exciting, however, is that I’m attending the Founding Congress of Mediators Beyond Borders; seeing old friends and meeting for the first time people I’ve long known at a distance; and getting to know an incredibly diverse and fascinating group of people dedicated to bringning conflict resolution techniques to international conflict.

More of that later.

Before getting to the “money shot” about changing the other guy’s mind, I want to share with you Ken Cloke’s 12 Ways Systems Resist Change from his lecture yesterday:  Mediators as Global Citizens:  How Mediators Can Change the Planet.

I start with resistance because you can’t even begin to think about change until you understand why it is you’re not getting past opposition’s door.  You might most readily notice in the following list the ways in which your workplace (or your government!) supports its dysfunction.

You’ll also recognize your opponent’s opposition to you and perhaps even yours to him.

  1. Marginalization:  Making ideas, people, perspectives, or insights that could threaten the system appear unimportant, irrelevant, irrational, or impossible to achieve.
  2. Negative Framing:  Using language that frames new ideas and critics negatively so that nothing that threatens the system can be thought or communicated successfully.
  3. Exaggeration:  Stereotyping or exaggerating one part of an idea in order to discredit the other parts and the whole.
  4. Personalization.  Reducing ideas to individual people, then discrediting or lionizing them.
  5. Sentimentalization:  Using sentimental occasions, ideas, emotions and language to enforce conformity and silence criticism.
  6. Seduction.  Describing the potential of the existing system in ways that unrealistically promise to fulfill people’s deepest dreams and desires and blame the failure to achieve them on others.
  7. Alignment:  Communicating that in order to exist, succeed, be happy or achieve influence, it is necessary to conform to the system regardless of its faults.
  8. Legitimization.  Considering only existing practices as legitimate an all others as illegitimate.
  9. Simplification.  Reducing disparate, complex, subtle, multi-faceted ideas to uniform, simplistic, superficial,  emotionally charged beliefs.
  10. False Polarization:  Limiting people’s ability to choose by falsely characterizing issues as good or evil, right or wrong, either/or.
  11. Selective Repression.  Selecting individual critics as examples, bullying them for disagreeing or failing to conform and ostracizing them.
  12. Double Binds:  Creating double standards that require people to live divided lives, or make it difficult for them to act with integrity.

Change strategies tomorrow.

                        author

Victoria Pynchon

Attorney-mediator Victoria Pynchon is a panelist with ADR Services, Inc. Ms. Pynchon was awarded her LL.M Degree in Dispute Resolution from the Straus Institute in May of 2006, after 25 years of complex commercial litigation practice, with sub-specialties in intellectual property, securities fraud, antitrust, insurance coverage, consumer class actions and all… MORE >

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