Environmental Persuasion

In the Internet age, it’s ridiculously easy to spread the word about the environment, but getting friends to take notice and act upon the information is notoriously hard.

I believe the main reason is our way of talking. We are so sure we’re on the “right” side and acting in the public interest that we end up lecturing instead of trying to persuade. And no one takes kindly to that.

If we really want to do some good, we need a different approach, rooted in respect for our friends and their right to come to their own decisions. Speaking from the heart about why we feel the way we do — not why we are right — is key. It may seem paradoxical but, in my experience, this is the best way to get friends to take our arguments seriously and possibly, over time, change their minds.

For specific suggestion on how to talk to friend about environmental issues — and stir up interest on Facebook — see Becoming an Earth Ambassador on This Green Life.

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9 Responses to Environmental Persuasion

  1. julie pearson April 11, 2013 at 10:55 am #

    thanks for the very sensible tips…I have to admit I tend to rant when it comes to the things I care about and after reading your column today, I am going to take another path. again, thanks so much!!

    • Ilona Bergen April 11, 2013 at 11:42 am #

      Julie I do the same thing. Guess we learned something.

  2. Louise Stonington April 11, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

    Excellent advice, beautifully expressed.

  3. Judy Richlin April 11, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

    I just read this article about the art of persuasion, and I couldn’t agree with it more. I wish I had read this or something like it several months ago. It would have saved me a lot of grief. I have actually come to pretty much the same conclusions over the past 2-3 months but it was a long and difficult road for me. I hope lots and lots of passionate advocates will read this article and take it to heart. I think it can only make us more effective in our quest to help others to see the truths that we have come to understand ourselves

  4. Mark Chin April 11, 2013 at 11:11 pm #

    Thanks Sheryl for such an insightful article! It is spot on! Communication is the key and for it to be effective it must be a two way street but far too many times we can tend to talk at people rather than to them.

  5. John Harris April 12, 2013 at 12:01 am #

    I found this to be excellent advice. I always think twice before forwarding an environmentally controversial article to my family and friends; it may be offputting. Instead, I prefer to send well-timed, pertinent news stories of current environmental issues, not policy nor publications.

  6. Earl Cantos April 12, 2013 at 9:49 am #

    I definitely see your point and for the most part agree. However, I also never miss an opportunity to tell people (friends or strangers) what I believe to be the truth about the environment or climate. Too many people avoid the subject entirely for a variety of reasons. They remain uninformed and deluded about what is really happening. Silence is contrition!

    • Jenni April 12, 2013 at 7:59 pm #

      Great article, it gets very disheartening to post information and not a single person seems to read it or even care. I had not thought about it from the perspective of them thinking I am telling them what to do, I know I do not take kindly to endless posts telling me I am a ‘bad’ person because I am not at the stage that others are at. Thanks,I will make sure I try and add some more personal info with my posts and try not to come out as if I am lecturing.I think there is a balance as you wrote about not being silent but not sounding like a dictator as well!

  7. Harry April 28, 2013 at 5:32 am #

    “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi

    Great article!