Clearly you are arriving to this post because you recognize the seriousness of COVID19, otherwise known as the Wuhan Coronavirus. Originating in the Wuhan province of China in December of 2019, the Coronavirus has since spread and declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization.
Hundreds of thousands of people have already became infected with this virus, and thousands have already died in the early days of this global outbreak.
Every major medical and healthcare organization is warning citizens about the very real danger that COVID-19 creates including the National Institutes of Health, the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US Department of Health and Human Services, and the American Medical Association.
Yet, despite all the overwhelming amount of information and objective data, there are still many that disregard the seriousness of this event. Vacationers and Fair Goers being unworried about Coronavirus, and even a members of congress minimizing the Coronavirus, one can understand why there are many that doubt the severity of this virus.
It can be a significant challenge to persuade people to change their mind on something, particularly something that is so large and scary. This is even more difficult when the one you are trying to persuade is your family member.
Because…you know… family drama.
But, you don’t want your family to get sick, right? You want to avoid seeing some of your family members become infected, hospitalized, or even die from Coronavirus.
So, what do you do? How to you try to convince someone that the Coronavirus is not a hoax, but a real event that we must all take precautions for; not only for us but for each other.
Let me teach you things that I have learned can be helpful when someone is stuck in their ways and wants to see things differently.
First: You have to listen to them first.
Hear them out. What is their perspective, and on what data did they form their opinion? What is it that they may lose if their change their mind? How will their life be affected if they begin to think differently? What information may they be lacking, or misunderstanding?
Here, you are not only practicing great listening skills, but you are trying to understand the person deeply. They may be very uncomfortable with what life may look like if they begin to see Coronavirus as real. Right? No one wants to believe that we are in the midst of a global catastrophe. They may be fearful about going against the opinion of someone they trust or feel guided by.
Second: You must validate them and their opinion.
Right or wrong, rational or not, people do not listen to others if they feel patronized, dismissed, or personally insulted. Saying “You’re an idiot!” will not get them to reconsider the information.
Instead, you have to point out where they make a valid point. You don’t have to agree with their point, you just have to validate where they have a point. Saying things like “You’re right. Early reports were confusing” or “I agree, some media outlets seem to just try to scare us” let’s the other person know you are validating what has led them to have another opinion.
And, this all has the benefit of being true.
The early reports were confusing.
The media does seem to be a bit pornographic in their imagery and salacious with their details and scary, ominous tones. So much so that is can be a bit overdramatic and compromising to their credibility.
You can agree with these without compromising the legitimacy of your opposing viewpoint.
Third: Ask, offer, and exit
Now that you have validated them, and shown that you are listening, the other person is much more likely to entertain your perspective. Before offering your opinion, say something like “I think I have some information you may find helpful. Can I share my thoughts?”.
Naturally, they will agree. Then, state your opinion in a calm, relaxed manner (no matter how much your mind is screaming). Don’t go on a long diatribe, or overwhelm the other person with too much specific data. Keep it short. Then, after you are done, try to steer the conversation back to them by saying “Any thoughts?”.
Let them say what they are going to say, and either repeat, or let it go.
If it was persuasive, then be resolved in the belief that you have planted a seed. If what you said was not persuasive, or if they truly are not in the place to hear you, then don’t keep saying the same thing over and over because that will counteract your ultimate mission; to help them be healthy.
Why are people still not getting it?
Psychological research has consistently shown that, in the face of scary or threatening information, people use denial as a means of coping with information. Additionally, something so large and complex is very difficult for our brains to comprehend.
There are still many people today that believe the earth is flat, and we have been having that debate for centuries. It’s not too surprising that Uncle Joe is doubling-down on dismissive “science” he read on a bumper sticker.
Disclaimer: ALL IN Therapy Clinic aims to improve people’s lives through providing effective mental health counseling by passionate professionals. We publish quality material for your own education. Our publications are researched, cited, reviewed, and edited by licensed mental health professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.