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If Numbers Don’t Lie, Why Doesn’t Anyone Believe Me?

You have an inspired idea for your event or project. You do the research and have some great metrics as support. When you present all of this to your team, it falls flat. In fact, they question the validity of your numbers. Could it be your audience is just tired; don’t get it or maybe you lack the power to influence?

Unless you build a base of power you will not be influential. One resource I’ve turned to when facing a similar response is Elements of Influence by author Terry R. Bacon. Referencing  over 20 years of research he reminds us that influence is often a process rather than an event. Whether you are looking for compliance; “it just makes sense” or commitment; “it just felt right” it is important to understand your points of power before trying to influence others.

Using metrics to gain support for your project is based on the psychology of persuasion call social proof. The idea is that when we see that others have come to the same conclusion it only makes sense that we should do the same: “We need to do X because an authority said that’s how it is done”. What’s tricky about this approach is that the audience must also see the authority as valid. Many people have a tendency to ignore objective data that contradicts their initial bias. See diagnosis bias. Therefore, it is also important to build trusting relationships so others see the value of your logic. Building your relationship power base can be just as important as finding the data to support your new idea.


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