How to Get Someone to Change…

She called them the “whiny boys” and my wife Susie is finally warming up to them after all these years.

What gives?

How did I get her to see rock bands from the 70s and 80s like Boston, Journey, Foreigner and REO Speedwagon with new eyes and how did I get her to go from making fun of them to actually liking some of their music?

Answer: The same way you get any body else to change anything…

By staying in the field of possibilities and letting them change in their own way and in their own timing.

In the case of these bands that I really loved…

All I did was, every so often, gently introduce Susie to certain songs or certain parts of music that she might actually like if she could get past her preconceptions of who these bands were in her own mind.

I didn’t make her wrong for not liking these bands and I didn’t tell her she had to start liking them…

But over the years there are some parts of these bands’ music that she has actually come to like and in some cases love.

(And that is amazing and wonderful to me.)

It would never have happened if I called her names, made fun of her and made her wrong for not liking these bands that I grew up with and whose music I have loved in some cases for over 40 years.

By gently introducing her to things she might actually like (if she got past her filters of calling them the “whiny boys”)…

Little by little there was a crack in the veneer and an openness about these bands started to emerge within her.

I picked my moments and when she was in an open and receptive space, I’d play a certain song or a certain piece of a song I thought she might like and explain to her why I loved it so much.

Because she loves me, and is interested in learning more about me…

She’d listen and over time has come to appreciate the “whiny boys” more and more.

So, is Susie now a true fan?

Not yet.

But the next time that I put “More than a Feeling,” “Don’t Stop Believing,” “I Want to Know What Love Is” or “Riding the Storm Out” on the stereo…

I’ll probably feel the door of possibilities opening a little wider.

Ok, so you might be saying something like this…

“While that’s a nice little story, how do I get someone to change about a really serious issue?”

If you take my story and break if down, here’s are 3 suggestions to get someone to change…


1. Don’t make them wrong

If you want someone else to change, the absolute wrong way to do it is to make fun of him or her, repeatedly make your point or make them wrong.

Susie absolutely has a right to like the kind of music she likes…

And it wasn’t my place to make her wrong or to judge her.

We’ve discovered that sarcasm and blame have no place in a close, connected relationship.

I realized that her calling my favorite bands the “whiny boys” didn’t hurt me one bit and…

If I made fun of her and blamed her, that would only close her down to the possibilities of actually changing her mind!

2. Stay in the field of possibilities and be willing to discover something new

When you give the other person the respect of listening and staying in the field of possibilities, even when you disagree, you may find some place where the two of you can connect.

I knew Susie loved organ music because she’d studied music for many years and when I introduced her to a video about how the first Boston album was made exclusively by Tom Scholz and the electronic equipment he built…

She was fascinated and hooked.

I found a place where we agreed that was pretty awesome but I had to listen to find out what she liked and stay in the field of possibilities myself.

3. Appreciate the change you see

So often when we want someone to change, we miss the small changes that are made.

We allow opportunities to pass us by to acknowledge small ways the person might be moving toward what you want.

We get impatient and our thinking clouds over what might be happening that’s actually toward a positive change.

So what if you don’t see any changes?

Well in this case, my life would be just fine if Susie continued to call these bands the “whiny boys.”

We would still have an awesome time together.

But I realize that there are situations where your values are not a match with the other person.

In that case, you’ll know what step to take next.

When you see that your life is good no matter whether the other person changes or not…

You’ll be happier and treat others with more kindness and love, no matter what.

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