How to persuade people to change

“If you wish to win a man over to your ideas, first make him your friend.”

~American President, Abraham Lincoln


As a leader in your community, persuasion is what you will need the most. You will have to persuade people who will agree with you what say; you will also have to persuade people who may downright object your messages about Betigiri and other social issues, and argue with you. But do not worry, persuasion like many other things is a skill that can be learned and honed with practice. In order to persuade someone, you have keep four things in mind:

  1. Yourself
  2. Audience
  3. Environment
  4. Deal to win over people’s heart



  1. You must look neat, clean and smart. Research conducted by America’s Yale University shows that if the communicator looks presentable, then the people listen to them more readily.
  2. You must believe in what you are telling the person. Being confident in what you are saying makes the other person believe in you more. Confidence can be seen in not only the way you speak but also in your body language. Refer to the chapter on communication skills, for tips on positive body language.
  3. Stay calm and turn on the charm. Seriously though, if you start shouting or get angry, no one is going to listen to you anymore. It becomes like tuning out a small child. Keep calm and friendly in your demeanor and you’ll be fine.
  4. Create an emotional bond with the person you want to persuade. Do small things like have chai with them, ask them how they are, and give them information that will benefit them.
  5. In case the person has an objection, think of how you will counter this objection.




  1. Know your audience. Find out what their interests are. If you know your audience well then you will know what to talk to them about, how to talk to them, and how to persuade them. To know your audience, you need to ask them questions. First we have to listen and not talk.
  1. Introduce your topic in a very gentle manner. Do not force your message onto them. Search for opportunities and gently introduce your message. For example, while talking to a friend over a cup of tea, you can just talk about what you would be eating for lunch and then spinach and fenugreek leaves, after which you can also share how these vegetables, can help prevent anemia.
  1. To persuade someone you must ask them two questions: Why do they feel about a topic and what can be done to change this feeling. This allows them to think of their own reasons, come up with own solutions and then makes it apply it to their own life. For example: Giving a person your view on health check-ups may seem like your forcing something on them but asking them why they don’t go for health check-ups and what could be done to change that attitude, they may come up with their own solutions. The fact that they thought of their own solutions will make them want to apply it to their life.
  1. Try and get the person to say ‘thank you’ to you. Saying thank you makes the person feel like you have done a favour for them and they must be grateful for it. They will want to return the favour. Give them tea or buttermilk, some information or just help them out. They will thank you and thus want to return the favour; they will even listen to you more intently now.
  1. Research has shown repeating statements and words helps recall things better and use of positive words makes people recall even better.
  1. Telling people that doing something is a trend also works. For example: Do you know a lot of people have been consuming green leafy vegetables these days? People say that such a diet is healthy and helps to fight anemia. Such information will make the person want to go and purchase green leafy vegetables because he doesn’t want to be left behind.
  1. While we have provided different techniques that can be used to persuade people, make sure to change these to suit your discussion with the person. Be flexible in your approach.



  1. Look for the right time to talk to the person. Do not talk to the person, if he is upset or in a hurry. Ask for an appointment to talk later.
  1. The environment of the conversation is a must. If the conversation is not serious, try and maintain a lively environment. Keep smiling and be interested in the person. The best way to do this is to ask questions. Ask questions about them and their life. Why? That’s simple everybody loves themselves and think that the most interesting person is them. Which is why, the more you ask about them, the more they will think you care.
  1. Create a need in people about the information that you provide. For example: In your conversations, you can create a need for learning about anemia.
  1. Do not take up too much of a person’s time. Get them to take a decision within a time frame. Your discussion for persuasion should have a goal, an end. You cannot just keep talking. Get a commitment from them. Start with small things like – ‘I promise to give my child green leafy vegetables 3 times a week or I promise to give my child iron folic acid tablets every day or I pledge my support for the anemia campaign in the village’. The sooner you get the person to take a decision, the better it is for you to persuade them.



  1. Use words such as “we”, “together”, “us”, instead of “I” or “you”.
  1. Be prepared with all the facts and information on the health topic. If you want people to be persuaded, giving them facts and concrete information is a must. You should not use words like “I think” or “I believe” while giving facts, as this makes it more difficult for the person to believe you. Instead you can start with the research or doctor says that…..
  1. Show people the benefits of following a behavior. Inform them about the positives of practicing behaviour. For example: We need to increase the oxygen levels in the blood of every mother and child in India. How will this happen? By increasing the iron content in the blood. The benefit of this is that our children will become intelligent and successful in lives; they will be able to run faster and will eventually win Olympic medals.
  1. Only giving facts and information will not help you win over hearts. You must make an emotional appeal too. “If you do this, won’t you feel happy from the inside?” “If your child eats and drinks well and becomes healthy, won’t you feel satisfied?”
  1. Appeal to people’s noble motives. We all believe we are inherently good human beings, use this belief to your advantage. Telling people that the small changes that they make in their lives, is actually a part of a larger movement of making Haryana healthy and helping in regain the number 1 status in health, or even telling people, “Do it for your child’s future” makes them feel responsible and capable.


These are the simple secrets of making new friends, persuading people and wining their hearts. Try these steps in whichever order that works best for you.