How To Encourage Someone To Try New Things When They Are Resistant

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The feeling of standing on the edge of something new is an exhilarating, exciting feeling. That isn’t always a good thing. Some people don’t respond well to exhilarating and exciting.

Those feelings can give way to fear, anxiety, and intimidation as they look at whatever this new thing is.

The fear of trying something new and interesting causes many people to shy away, preferring a safer or quieter route.

Others don’t want to risk making any waves or stepping outside of their comfort zone, for fear of something unexpected happening.

Fear is a natural response to the unknown, but we can encourage people through their fear to new experiences and to pursue the things they may find intimidating.

How do we do that?

Identify the reason for the person’s resistance and meet it with facts.

A friendly conversation can help clarify the other person’s perspective about the experience. An important part of active listening is not imposing your emotions or perceptions on the other person.

One needs to be receptive by not minimizing their feelings and listening to what they say, as opposed to imposing our point of view on their words.

Their fear or hesitation may not seem rational or reasonable for what the experience actually is, but we should not pass judgment.

Passing judgment is a quick way to get a person to dig their heels in and go on the defensive, which will effectively close off any potential for persuasion.

Listen to the person’s concerns and try addressing them with facts.

As an example, if a person is afraid of the consequences of the action, you can acknowledge that person’s fear as a real possibility. Yes, this fear that you have is valid and could happen, but then you counter it with additional facts and perspective.

You can introduce the benefits and positive possibilities of taking the action so the person can consider those too (because they might not have even crossed their fearful mind).

You will rarely experience success trying to browbeat or manipulate someone into a course of action. It is far better to offer it up as a helpful suggestion that they can go along with to experience something positive.

People may interpret focusing on the positives as manipulative, but it’s not. And the reason it’s not is because the fear of loss is often heavier than the weight of the potential benefits. These things need to be viewed equally. There’s nothing wrong with introducing a balanced perspective.

Actual manipulation must be avoided. If you break someone’s trust, you may never get it back.

Do the activity with them, to help ease them through their discomfort.

An easy way to convince a person to try something new or different is to participate in the activity with them.

This works for a wide scope of activities that range from mundane to serious. That can be anything from, “Hey, let’s go to this new restaurant that just opened up across town!” to providing moral support by accompanying a family member to a doctor’s appointment.

Presence is an incredibly powerful tool. There are many examples in life where words are just going to fail you.

We look for those words, trying to find the right combination that will persuade the listener to change the way they may think or feel, but sometimes those words don’t exist.

Sometimes, the better approach is to simply walk forward with a warm smile, telling the person, “Hey, I’m going to do this thing. Why don’t you come along with me?”

People are less hesitant to walk forward if they feel like they are not alone in what they’re doing.

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Break the activity down into manageable, less intimidating pieces.

A person’s hesitation and resistance to a course of action could be rooted in intimidation.

Sometimes, a thing we need to do may seem so large, so daunting that we are overwhelmed by the possibility in trying to take it on.

A person may be more agreeable in taking an action if it is broken down into smaller, less intimidating pieces. This can also work for trying to hype yourself up to tackle a large or intimidating task.

Another way to break down an intimidating task is to organize it in the form of a checklist type of plan. The person undertaking the task may respond better to having much smaller goals that they can tick off one at a time as they work toward the larger task at hand.

Smaller goal setting is preferable for getting things done, because it helps to foster motivation and gives the participants a sense of accomplishment as they look forward to each new goal.

People can be struck by analysis paralysis if there are too many details to navigate. Depending on the situation, the person who needs to actually do it may not even need all of the details to fulfill their end of action.

Some people want to know why, other people don’t. Knowing which is which can help smooth the overall process of getting the larger goals accomplished.

Provide incentives for undertaking the activity.

Incentives are one of the easiest ways to get someone to do something they don’t necessarily want to do.

That may be an employee who is showing up to their job for their paycheck or coming to a compromise with a loved one about getting something accomplished at home.

Sometimes, instead of trying to inspire or cajole, it’s simply easier to offer something in exchange for a person’s time, knowledge, or help.

The key is to offer an incentive that is meaningful or matters, otherwise the person is likely to feel insulted or that their time is not valuable.

Creating an incentive around an activity does require balance though. There are some things we just have to do in life, whether we want to or not.

You don’t want to teach the person that they deserve reward or recognition for doing every little thing that they are supposed to do.

On the other hand, it can be an effective way to encourage consistency or knock out several smaller goals in pursuit of a larger one.

Persuasion is important, but so are boundaries.

A thin line exists where we cross over from ethical persuasion to make things happen, to unethical manipulation to try to force a person into a course of action that is not right for them.

Attempting to unethically manipulate someone is generally going to blow up in the manipulator’s face sooner or later.

At some point, the person is going to figure out what’s going on and will push back against the manipulator. It can destroy friendships, relationships, and respect.

Do yourself a favor and stick to the ethical side of persuasion. Focus on how the person will benefit, if they truly will benefit.

Some people are apprehensive or intimidated by change. Other people just know when something is right or wrong for them. And if they determine something isn’t a good fit for them, let it go and move on.

Honesty is an important component in ethical persuasion. If a person doesn’t think they can trust you, then they aren’t going to be easily persuaded by any of your arguments. Instead, they’ll be looking for the angle that you’re working. If you reach that point, you might as well not even bother.

About The Author

Jack Nollan is a mental health writer of 10 years who pairs lived experience with evidence-based information to provide perspectives from the side of the mental health consumer. Jack has lived with Bipolar Disorder and Bipolar-depression for almost 30 years. With hands-on experience as the facilitator of a mental health support group, Jack has a firm grasp of the wide range of struggles people face when their mind is not in the healthiest of places. Jack is an activist who is passionate about helping disadvantaged people find a better path.