When we first talked about how to change other people's minds in To Change Minds … Change Your Approach?, Red was shocked to learn that Black, her highly pragmatic (albeit extremely sarcastic) sister, who often thinks of disagreements as sport, actually suggested using approaches that seemed more in keeping with Red's "style" as a warm and fuzzy mom, who goes out of her way to avoid conflict.

Of course, that led to us talking (initially, Black thought Red just wanted to bask in the light of being right, but quickly realized that the straight-A student wanted to better understand the approach), and we ultimately created the following list because we both love lists.

We don't think this is a definitive list, but we agree that you can't go wrong using any/all of the following approaches or (as Black would say) strategies … whether in an attempt to change someone's mind or only to better understand their position.

  1. R-E-S-P-E-C-T
    Aretha Franklin said it best … as we strongly believe respect should permeate everything we do. Everyday. Unfortunately, it seems to have gotten lost somewhere. It's ok to disagree with someone, but if we remember to treat them with respect, we'll all be less defensive – and more open to learning what we each think (and why).
  2. See Another Side
    It's human nature to trust people who are like us or who see things the same way we do, and it can be difficult to understand different perspectives. Too bad Aretha didn't sing E-M-P-A-T-H-Y, but there's a reason for the expressions, "Don't judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes" or "There are two sides to every story" (although Black will argue there are at least three, and often more). Want the best way to understand another person's perspective or opinion? Ask them. And then listen.
  3. Seek Common Ground
    Have you ever been had a conversation with someone new and found you had something in common? Or, have you ever been arguing with someone and suddenly find that you agree on something? If so, you'll know the feeling of connectivity and comfort (sometimes satisfaction or even amazement) that comes from finding common ground. And even if it's something small, that's often enough to build on. So, look for it.
  4. Remember, You're Not In A Courtroom
    So often, when trying to change someone's mind, the tendency is to present your case as if you're in a court of law defending your position while shooting down the opposing side. Our mom takes that to the extreme, to the point that Black used to start conversations with her by saying, "You are right, I am wrong, what is the topic?" The problem is that rather than starting from a place where you might be able to meet in the middle, it immediately puts each side in an extreme position. And all we can say is … good luck with that.
  5. Leave A Way Out
    Have you ever been in a situation where you were certain you were right, and then during the course of conversation, realize that you might not have considered all the issues, or you may have been missing an important detail? Some people are better at dealing with that (Black will merely say, "Fair enough"), while others will hold their ground because they're afraid they'll look stupid or weak if they "give in". If you're trying to change someone's mind, you need to make sure there's a graceful way for that to happen.
  6. Emotion Overrules Facts
    In fact (pun intended), changing someone's mind is one of the rare times when Black believes that Red's warm-and-fuzzy approach is more conducive to success than her own Vulcan-like approach. People make decisions emotionally and then evaluate the evidence. And often, once a decision's made, people may resist believing "opposing" evidence or even "interpret" the facts so that it supports their decision.
  7. Start With A Story
    We're a story-telling society. We remember stories long after we've forgotten facts and figures. And we remember what we've experienced more than something we have read or heard. It's the power of stories. So, we end our list with an idea of where to start the conversation if you want to change someone's mind. Tell a story, give an example, conjure up a memory of a past experience … anything that will make the topic relatable, and provide an emotional foundation on which you can build.

WARNING: Although this post was presented as ways to approach changing someone's mind … keep in mind it is a two-way street … and you may, ironically, find yourself changing your mind.

People have told us they're using our sisterly banter to start conversations with others (family, friends, and even in classrooms), so Black created "Conversation Starters".

With Christmas and New Year’s just around the corner, there’s no getting around that we’re in the thick of what Red refers to as the “silly season”. And the funny thing is, although we wrote this Conversation Starter last year, we had an almost identical conversation again this year. Some things never change – like Red getting caught up in all the things on her “to do” list …

Red's Head Red assets.rebelmouse.io

I can't believe how quickly the holidays are flying by. On one hand, all I want to do is enjoy them as I love this time of year. But I can't because there always seems so much to do. And I'm afraid that if I don't do everything on my holiday "to do" list, I'll disappoint people, including me. You don't have this problem as you don't have kids and you live alone, plus others aren't looking to you to make the holidays festive and memorable.

Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io

You seem to start with your "to-do" list, whereas I think about the significance of the holiday and what will make it meaningful and memorable. Yes, it is a more pragmatic approach, but it makes the planning so much easier. You know that I dislike the over-commercialization of holidays, but it does provide a reminder that it is important to let others know how much you appreciate them.


  • What's most important to you during the holidays? Why?
  • Describe your "perfect" (yet realistic) holiday celebration. What it would take to make it come true?
  • If you celebrate with others, have you ever discussed what's important to them?

P.S. – Since this is being posted in the midst of the December holiday season (what Red refers to as the "silly season"), you might be interested in these recent posts:

    Every holiday season seems like Groundhog Day to me, so this year I was relieved to be able to re-read my post from last year as it reminded me that I face the same challenges every holiday season. I also couldn't help but laugh at myself, knowing that all I have to do is heed my own advice. And as is frequently the case … I can learn a lot when I talk to myself.

    It's official! The holiday "silly season" (as I call it) is now underway and before I know it, it will be New Year's Day and I'll be looking back and asking, "Where did December go?!" This year's holiday goals …

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    Design by Sawyer Pennington

    People have told us they're using our sisterly banter to start conversations with others (family, friends, and even in classrooms), so Black created "Conversation Starters".

    red head red head assets.rebelmouse.io

    I'm really looking forward to Thanksgiving this year since it felt like Thanksgiving was canceled last year. OK, maybe not canceled, but streamlined since I couldn't invite anyone who didn't live with us. The dining room table seemed incomplete, especially as mom couldn't join us. It's funny because, over the years, I've always taken for granted that even as life changes, such as the girls growing up and going off to college, Thanksgiving would always bring us together. So, I'm not sure that I truly stopped and appreciated each Thanksgiving Day as I was so focused on everything I needed to get done. I might stop and think about something I was specifically thankful for, but I need to start appreciating the day itself. To try to "be present", so to speak, in the present.

    Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io

    I know that Thanksgiving is about giving thanks, but what you just described is gratitude. Gratitude is "deeper" than thankfulness, and the best way I can describe it is … think about when you might write a thank you note – someone gives you something or does something for you. It is a fleeting event. Now think about if you were to write someone a note or letter of appreciation.

    You have repeatedly told me that mere mortals often need reminders, so what if this Thanksgiving you start a "gratitude habit"? Make a daily appointment with yourself to find a few quiet moments and write down at least one thing for which you are grateful. It can be as simple as sunlight on your face or the crunch of an apple. You are probably rolling your eyes right now, but it will only take a few minutes and can change your life. Or, at least, how you look at it.


    • Why do some people not appreciate and give thanks for the positive things in their life?
    • If you begin to appreciate the value of appreciation (pun intended), what might you want to be mindful of going forward?
    • Do you think a "gratitude habit" might be useful? Would you be willing to "test-drive" (Black's words) one for a month and see if your opinion changes? Explain your answers.