People Don’t Like it if You Challenge Their Mindsets

by Don Smith

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I wrote about using credit cards the other day and got a lot of negative feedback. People or experience had convinced many that Credit Cards = Bad. Period.

At one point, I thought that way too, so I understand their position, but today, I would have to disagree in certain instances. Like most things in life, it isn't as clear cut as people like to make it out to be. It's not worth trying to change their mindset, though, so I'll continue enjoying my credit card rewards while they continue using cash for everything.

It's the same with coaching. The other day, someone asked a question in one of my small business groups as to whether hiring a coach was a good idea or not. There were wildly different opinions. Some said they would never hire a coach (even though they were struggling and had never tried it). Some said they tried it, it was a waste of time and money, and they'd never try it again.

Yet others said they had a great experience, it was worth every penny, and they would do it again in a heartbeat.

It's always interesting to listen in on these types of conversations because both sides usually have strong opinions based upon their own limited experience. The funny thing is that as a coach, I know that I've helped a lot of people, and then there were a couple I couldn't help, so both viewpoints are accurate, but neither tells the full story. Changing someone's mindset is tough because that mindset comes from their experience and what they believe is right, but that perspective rarely tells the whole story.

How do you change someone's mind who had a bad coach in the past and wasted their money? Or someone who had a fantastic experience with a coach and tripled their money or completely changed their life? 

How do you change someone's mind who used credit cards in the past, couldn't control their spending, and ended up with bills they couldn't pay? Or someone who was disciplined with their money and went on trips every year using the reward points?

It's a bit of a rhetorical question because you can't directly change someone's mind on stuff like that. We form our mindsets from our experiences and the information we consume.

What you can do is provide new evidence that opens the person's mind up to the possibility that their views are, at best, incomplete.

But ultimately, it's up to them to determine whether or not the new facts change their former conclusions. Many will even acknowledge that those positive experiences they hear about are real, yet will sadly conclude that they could never hope to achieve the same results, and therefore never will.

That's the trouble with changing mindsets. Many will cling to their old beliefs, even while being presented with evidence that those beliefs are not entirely accurate. Those people will remain stuck right where they are because they don't believe they can change their circumstances.

It is often not worth fighting to change other people's mindsets. It is frequently better to be happy than it is to be right, and often there is a shade of truth in the other person's position anyway.

There is one person worth fighting that battle with, though, and that's the one who looks back at you from the mirror every morning. I challenge you to open your mind and consider the fact that maybe, just maybe, there's a better way.

About the Author 

Don Smith

Happily married with five kids, Smith owns a technology company, is the founder of this site, has served on the board of directors for multiple companies, and loves playing soccer, hiking, and mentoring.

  1. Don, I can only imagine your perspective as a coach, as I am not one. More difficult for me to imagine is your goal of changing people’s minds or better stated, the expert opening the person’s perspective with possibilities never imagined. Hats off to you, because even more difficult is the plethora of one’s own experiences and belief system that, many times, fights within themselves or with you, the coach, to remain the same. Change is difficult for many people and I love what you say in the last paragraph…encouraging people to consider there may just be a better way. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Mari. Coaching others has certainly opened my own mind to what is possible, and to some of the odd things that people believe are true. Often what seems impossible to one person is routine for the next. It’s like the 4 minute mile. It seemed impossible for runners to run a mile in less than 4 minutes, until someone did. Now it’s routinely broken. Or people who believe happy marriages only exist in fairy tales, yet ignore those who have them saying they must not being truthful. Or people who hate their jobs but think everyone hates their jobs. Truth is relative to our experiences, and until we open ourselves up to the idea that there may be more to the story, that will remain our truth.

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