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Published January 03, 2012 in Talking Points by Sharon Harris
What if you want to convince a conservative friend that the War on Drugs should end? Suppose you want to persuade a liberal relative that anti-gun laws are a bad idea?
You'll likely get nowhere talking with the conservative about civil liberties and the right of an individual to decide what goes into his body. And you may scare the liberal half to death if you start talking about bearing arms.
There's a better way. Dubbed "political cross-dressing" by persuasion coach and author Michael Cloud, it dramatically increases your chances of changing someone's mind. (And no, it doesn't require changing your clothes.)
The key is to tailor your message to your audience. Think about the specific concerns of the person you're talking to. Conservatives are typically concerned about law and order and about economic issues. Liberals are typically concerned about civil rights and taking care of those less fortunate.
Fortunately, libertarian solutions address ALL of these concerns.
To the conservative, talk about the tremendous cost of the drug war, the fact that it actually causes more crime, that it diverts law enforcement resources away from fighting violent crime, and that it actually makes drugs more available to children.
To the liberal, present the idea that guns can -- and often do -- protect the weakest among us. Talk about guns being "equalizers" for women, give examples of totalitarian governments disarming citizens, show gun ownership as a civil liberty.
So lead with your strong suit! You'll start out on the same page as your listeners, and they'll be much more open to seeing the issue from a different perspective.