How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
About this site
So what's this site about? You might well guess from the URL. It's about persuasion and general changing of minds, in all its forms.
Changing others' minds is at the core of many professions and disciplines, from leadership to brand management to psychotherapy to sales. And although each has its body of knowledge, they all have much in common.
So who are you, the peruser of this site? you might be a sales person, looking for deeper secrets (and there are plenty here and more to come). You might be a marketer, a teacher or another professional from our domains of knowledge. You may be a business leader or change agent. You may well work in a job not mentioned here, because every job has at least some element of persuasion.
You may also be a student of persuasion and psychology. This site is based on much research, and the practical techniques are backed up with all of the main academic theories and research. If you want to reference pages here, please see the notes for students page.
You might also be the victim or target of persuasion, as we all are, many times each and every day. Because if you can detect a trick or technique coming your way, you can avoid it, expose it, or play with the trickster, doubling back the deception and outplaying them at their own game. For this is the great leveller: if you try to deceive someone and they discover it, then the game ends there and then, and they may never trust you again.
The author of this site is David Straker, an individual with a long background in a range of mind-changing areas, including (in no particular order) counseling, psychology, marketing, sales, education, business change, international management and consulting. Oh yes, and parenting. And four postgraduate qualifications in changing minds (M.Sc. Psychology, M.Sc. Management and Technology, Postgraduate Certificate in Education, and Diploma in Marketing).
How do we do it?
Occasional emails from kind readers wonder about the effort involved in writing and maintaining the site. Nobody works full-time on the site, but if you include research and writing, then about 20 to 40 hours per week go into it, and have done for about ten years. That adds up to between 10,000 and 20,000 hours. I (Dave) study constantly and have a personal library of thousands of books and have read goodness how many journal articles. (I'm not obsessive -- just passionate ;). And from Autumn 2010, I've given up the day job to work full time on the site, with occasional paid work and a lot of voluntary stuff (a great way to happiness, by the way).
What's In It For Us
Why? you might be asking. Why would someone put all the work into this site to give away their hard-won secrets? What's the 'WIIFM' (What's In It For Me) factor? Good question.
Putting together this site gives several benefits:
From Autumn 2010, I live on a combination of site-generate revenue, savings and occasional consulting. I've made the jump from office work and am now full-time 'changing minds'.
The philosophy for the site is to take a neutral moral position. Persuasion methods are like weapons: whether they are used for good or bad is the responsibility of the user. At changingminds.org, we just tell it like it is.
I could try to impress my values on you, but I do know full well that would not be successful. However, I do know that unfriendly persuasion can be harmful to your health, whatever the surgeon-general might say.
Friends come and go, but enemies accumulate, and if you persist in taking advantage of other people, you are taking your happiness in your own hands. Even the meekest of people can turn really nasty if they feel they have been tricked or betrayed.
See more about this in the Caveat.
The bottom line: we reap what we sow.
Any piece of writing can stretch from high academia to unproven one-person's experience and views. The approach in this site is to cover both academic theories and hands-on practitioner material.
As far as possible, we want to be able to show the solid research on which the practical 'how to' material is based. This also gives the benefit of material that is useful for both students and practitioners. We can't be fully academic as this would requires pages of references for every claim. But rest assured, we do try to be sensible and base writings on understanding rather than opinion or hearsay.
All this will of course, take time. So hang in there, keep dropping back and you'll be amazed at how we grow! (by the way, you won't find any of those annoying 'under construction' signs around here--it's all a building site, whether for new projects or improving the existing edifices!).
The bottom line: content is king.
Technical-wise, the philosophy is 'quick and easy'. You'll find limited graphics, which means fast-loading pages. We also aim to cross-link the site, making good use of the hyperlinking capabilities of the web.
There aren't a lot of graphics: they slow downloads. The site was started in the says of modems and phone lines, when light content was helpful. The need for this came back with smart phones, when bandwidth is again important. We're working to help you get information quickly!
Color interest is achieved through fonts and backgrounds (although most text is high-contrast black-on-white).
On the 'how wide should the columns be' question, we listened to the arguments then decided to let you decide. If you fill the screen, the text will follow. If you like narrower columns, then, hey, the web interfaces on window resizing are designed to make the text follow you.
This decision was made at the turn of the millennium. As it turns out it has proved very useful for mobile devices too. As of 2011, we've even changed the format to a 'responsive' one so even on small phones things should read right.
The bottom line: KISS.
The site is funded from simple advertising revenues.
The ads have deliberately been kept straightforward and honest, using only the high-integrity ad providers. We've avoided nasty flashy banners and adult stuff that serve more to drive people away than attract them.
We've a philosophy of helping others, and believe that putting others first is the best way to success. If you help enough people, then enough of those people will help you.
The bottom line: give to gain.
The words here are copyright but you are free to use them for non-commercial purposes and of course you can link to anything here (that's what the internet is about!). If you want to use anything for commercial purposes, including use with a company intranet, please do contact us so we can create a win-win agreement (we may even be able to add further value for you).
As a content-oriented site, we necessarily refer to what other people have done (as do most books), with the belief that we are not treading on any toes. We do our best to acknowledge sources (perhaps more so than some others) and promote relevant texts. If we have got any of this wrong, please let us know. If you are the owner of any copyright, etc. and want anything changed or removed, please contact us and we will be pleased to correct things.
We get many requests regarding referencing pages for essays, papers, etc. Here's some key notes:
There are more notes about all this on the students' page.
Whilst we have taken as much care as possible to make this site accurate, with appropriate references and so on, we cannot guarantee that everything is perfect or complete. Please contact us if you know anything to be incorrect. We also make no claims about site availability or development.
Whilst we will constantly do our best to keep the site going, if disaster strikes then the site might one day stop being updated or disappear. It's a life's work and there should be a few decades before the old dog kicks the bucket, so fingers crossed, it should keep going for many years to come.
Our general policy is to respect and protect the privacy of everyone interacting with this site.
No information received about any person will be released to any other party, nor will it be used for any unsolicited email (other than replying to your original message) or other communications. Any use of personal information will be only done with express permission of the person in question.
And the big