How To Deal With Stubborn People
Tai Jun 05, 2017

Dealing with stubborn people can make you want to bash your head against a brick wall.

We’ve all been there.  But the difference is that you can do something about it. As I was reading Will Durant’s Story of Philosophy about the great philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, I came across a quote that will change the way you look at -- and deal with -- stubborn people.  The quote reads:
Hence the uselessness of logic; no one ever convinced anybody by logic...To convince a man, you must appeal to his self-interest, his desires, his will.


So what does that mean, exactly, and how does it carry over to dealing with stubborn people? Let’s take a deeper look.

The truth is, this applies not just in dealing with, or learning to “read” people, but in everyday life too.  If you’re an entrepreneur, knowing this will affect your marketing, your outreach, and how you connect to customers.

Coke Vs. Pepsi

When was the last time you saw a Coke commercial? They’re not logical at all. They show celebrities drinking the drink. You never hear them say “our drink has X grams of sugar, which make it taste good…” and other things that would normally appeal to your logic.

But here’s the thing -- we’re not convinced by logic. Schopenhauer says “we are not far removed from our animal instincts.” So if there’s a stubborn person in your life -- whether it’s a girlfriend/boyfriend, husband/wife, parent, coworker or friend, and they won’t budge no matter how much logic you throw at them, try this instead.

Find Out What They Desire

Remember, Schopenhauer emphasized the uselessness of logic. He didn’t say that logic works sometimes, or only when you do this certain thing or that thing. Of course, there are some people who can be swayed by logic alone, but getting them to see your point of view works even better if you find out what they desire.

When you appeal to their self-interests and find out what they want, a whole host of new opportunities to persuade and work with them start percolating to the top. Let’s take a look at one of the most stubborn people that exists -- your boss -- and how to convince them to give you a raise.

How to Get a Raise Without Ever Mentioning the Word

Let’s face it, bosses usually tune out the moment you mention the word “raise” -- their minds start focusing on all the reasons why it can’t be done. So let’s turn this around a bit. First, don’t even mention the word “raise”. Instead, appeal to their desires and their self-interests.

For example, what boss wouldn’t want their job to be made easier?  You could approach him or her and say “I have a few ideas on how to make your job easier.. If I were able to come in and do X, Y and Z for you - think of how much more (productivity, money, etc.) you’d be able to enjoy.”

Notice that I didn’t use the word “I” in there anywhere. You can bring up at the end that a little raise would help motivate you to help them get more done -- but again, you’re focusing on them.

People are in love with themselves. They don’t love you -- and they probably don’t even care that a raise would make things easier for you. They’re out to make things easier for themselves. And throwing all that logic as to how much work you do, or how often you stay late at the office or whatever won’t make a bit of difference in budging their decision.

What’s Love Got to Do With It?

“But what about my spouse, Tai?” I can hear you saying, “I love my spouse and my spouse loves me.”

I read a scientific study that showed even between spouses, we love ourselves more. Even if you love your spouse, and your spouse loves you -- unconditionally, you still love yourself just a little bit more. The only exception is kids -- you can love a child more than you love yourself because you’re looking out for their welfare -- preservation of the species and all that.

If you read the book The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins, he says that the reason a parent will sacrifice themselves for their child is because their genes are in that child, so they are, in a sense, saving themselves.


So without getting too deep on the subject, if you’re dealing with stubborn people in your life, don’t be afraid to change up the game. Stop coming at it from the perspective of logic and start appealing to their innermost desires and their love of themselves.  Find out what they want and focus on how you can help them get it -- then interject your needs last.

The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant is a great book, and this is just one part of it. I am by no means a great philosopher, but I’ve just given you my “layman’s version” of it.  Do this, and you’ll find that even the thickest skull will suddenly be open and receptive to persuasion. 
Try it -- responsibly.

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