How to persuade others with counter attitudinal advocacy. Persuasion is the process of changing minds. Persuasion is an everyday part of human discourse. It is used by salesmen, parents, teachers, and many others – basically all of us. Persuasion in mediation is a two-way street. Long before you try to influence another to moderate their demands or consider the other side’s point of view, chances are good that they will have tried to convince you to their position.
It’s my experience in order to be an effective mediator, I must engage in various forms of persuasion. I do not engage in coercive or manipulative persuasion practices by which pressure brought to bear on reluctant participants to get a settlement. I do use a range of potential mediator interventions to help the parties resolve deeply held or competitively bargained differences. *
Counter attitudinal Advocacy
This is a fancy term to essentially have one side give the arguments of their opposition, thereby inducing the parties to consider the other perspectives. It is a powerful way to change minds. By making the argument for the other side, they must articulate the other side’s perspective. It creates cognitive dissidence cracking open the thinking process.
How it works
It is a form of self –persuasion. In mediation, I often start out in a private meeting with one side and ask them to tell me what the other side wants to accomplish. Simply put: why are they here? It forces them to set aside their own needs and desires and attempt to look at the problem from the others perspective. Can there be an innocent interpretation of their actions and perspectives? I have the same conversation with the other side when we meet. Together both start to see the problem from different perspectives.
It works to create a change in attitude. With deeply held beliefs, changes are slow and incremental. By focusing on a different point of view, attitudes do change. I use this process extensively in mediations where there in an on going relationship such as construction and technology industries.
Why it works
When we regard the others persuasive arguments as our “own” we reduce our psychological resistance. Technically, it overcomes single explanation bias. Many times I’ve seen the light bulb go on and real progress is made towards resolving the conflict.
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*Stark, James H. and Frenkel, Douglas N., Changing Minds: The Work of Mediators and Empirical Studies of Persuasion (2013). Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution, Vol. 28, No. 2, Pg. 263, 2013; U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 11-07
**Why the picture of Cross Country runners? It takes a lot of persuasion to get them to the finish line.
About the Author: Ken Strongman (www.kpstrongman.com) has years of experience and a growing national reputation as a mediator and arbitrator. He has successfully resolved more than a thousand disputes in the fields of construction defects, real estate, intellectual property, and employment. He is also a Mediator and Arbitrator for FINRA.
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