One of the greatest assets of the human race as a whole is our ability to communicate with each other. This ability allows us to exchange great ideas, solve difficult problems, and express various amounts of emotion. In this post, I’m going to talk about how to communicate and a 5 step formula on how to win others to your way of thinking.
In the outpatient clinic, nearly all of my patients have chronic diseases which require me to set up regular appointments with them. A lot of these diseases, such as diabetes, require regular medications for treatment and management. But more importantly, these diseases require me to convince patients to follow the prescribed medications and lifestyle changes.
At first glance, the persuasion part seems really easy. I mean, if you don’t want to feel sick anymore just do what the doctor tells you, right? Well as with life, things aren’t ever that easy. Some patients don’t prioritize their new diet and exercise regimen. Some don’t believe in the medicine. Some just forget. The list can go on and on. So if the main goal is to treat and manage patients’ diseases, how do I and other doctors do it? By persuasion.
Here’s a five step formula that I use in persuading patients. The beauty this formula is that it’s universal. You can use it across other specialties whenever you need to win someone over to your way of thinking.
- Listen. The first step in communication. The only way I can treat my patients is if I know what they need to be treated. Try focusing all your effort on listening next time you’re in a conversation. Not only will you hear some great ideas, but you’ll be more liked and people will naturally want to be around you.
- Ask open-ended questions. This goes along with the above. In medical school, I was taught that the best way to gather history from the patient is with open-ended questions. You can apply this technique in practice by doing step 1 and asking great followup questions.
- See things from their perspective. You may not agree or support their views, but understanding where they are coming from will go a long way in communicating your thoughts. Also, you will gain more insight and even expand on your idea.
- Reciprocate. Be genuinely sympathetic with others’ viewpoints. People often crave the sympathy and understanding of others. If they feel your sincerity, it will be easier for them to come around to your way of thinking.
- Talk bigger picture. Now that you have all the data you need, apply it to the conversation! You can create an open space for your persuasion by using statements such as “what if we tried it this way…” or “do you think this would be a great idea…” Dale Carnegie uses the phrase “appeal to the nobler motives” in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People. By refocusing on the bigger picture, you can successfully recruit the person to believe in your ideas.
So next time you need to persuade your boss for a raise, your business partner with an idea, or even your patient with a treatment option, remember this formula and I’m sure you’ll be successful. Try it out and share your experience below!