Flip it: The art of leveraged influence.

Ever find yourself defending or selling something that should be inherently obvious and valued? For example, pleading with a teenager to wake up for school, or justifying why a bonus is not up to the expectations of an employee.

What’s up with this? How can school fall to the rank of burden? Why is a bonus expected regardless of business circumstances?

A lot of things we do don’t make sense.

This is when it’s time to Flip It.

It’s all about mindset (a/k/a, psychological associations). Some such mindsets are so powerful that they become culturally accepted and even reinforced in our vocabulary. E.g., “I’m going to give you a good schooling.” I don’t know about other languages, but what English speaking person wants this idiom? Or the word, “compensation.” Whose idea was it to use this for employment terms? It automatically reinforces the mindset that pay is remedial, not the recognition of value.

Returning to our examples: a typical parental reaction to the stubborn teen may to take away something undisputedly valued by the snoozer (i.e., phone privileges). For the entitled employee justifications typically emerge such as diffusing the situation by pointing out that no one got bonuses, or that “the Company” had a bad year and can’t pay. Both are logical, but do they really make the point in the most compelling way?

What if instead of conjuring up an obvious punishment (taking away the phone) or presenting a compelling argument you were able to turn the (perceived) minus into a different, personal reality for the self-appointed ‘victim’?

Enter the ‘flip.’

“Okay, if you don’t wake up by 6:30, you won’t go to school today.” Of course, this may initially be met with snide agreement: “Fine, I don’t want to go anyway” – a favorite reaction by adolescents.

Critical point: Hold the line and follow through. Trust me, this will become a prime example of single trial learning. Adolescents are social animals — they’ll “die”, to use their own term, if denied the opportunity to engage in normative behavior.

In the work-related example ask, “How would you feel about your bonus if you owned this company and therefore were obligated to pay it, too?”

In both circumstances a commonly held, but invalid, mindset is challenged by flipping the perspective, thus, making it personal.

Is school really a burden to teens? If so, why isn’t it surprising to learn that following through on this ‘punishment’ for one day is all it took to change the particular teen’s behavior? How about the bonus? Checks feel different when your name is on both the “Pay to” and ‘Authorized signature’ lines.

These are both examples of cognitive dissonance – justifying an unreasonable point of view with {knowingly} weak “logic” in a self-preserving way. Simply exposing the “victim’s” mindset as one-sided and incomplete reveals the denied truth. The power of this approach is consistent with the principle of karate – use the opponent’s power against them by acting as a lever, not an opponent. This accountability shift challenges the flawed logic of cognitive dissonance.

The next time you’re confronted with a normal, but irrational reaction to a reasonable or even beneficial alternative, just flip it.

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