Why People Say NO to Your Good Ideas

People are a suspicious lot, aren’t they?

If you offer to carry someone’s groceries through a parking lot, they’d refuse.

Offer to exchange money with someone, your $20 for their $10 in a clear win for the other person… they’d refuse.

Photo "CL Society 218: Crossing arms" by Francisco Osorio, Flickr, CC-By-2.0
Photo “CL Society 218: Crossing arms” by
Francisco Osorio, Flickr, CC-By-2.0

Both situations are unusual, out-of-the-ordinary.

Humans like what’s known, what’s comfortable. Anything different from the status quo is…



Confirmation bias is our brain’s attempt to keep us safe by accepting what we already believe, and discarding what we disagree with. Most of the time…

facts don’t matter!

We don’t have the energy or time or interest to research a topic enough to know what is fact or fiction.

We don’t know peoples’ intent or emotional state when a decision was made.

We don’t care to find out that we’re wrong or that reality is different from our ideals.

And so on.

So when an authority figure tries to tell us something, we often defend our position. We dig into what we already believe. We believe it stronger and shut out what doesn’t confirm our biases.

This is covered extensively in “Mistakes Were Made, but Not By Me.”

It’s the “authority figure” that I want to focus on today.

Make Up Your Mind

People want to make up their own minds.

When someone recognizes that he or she doesn’t know something and decides to ask an authority, he (or she) tends to trust that authority. He decided that action, and will accept the result.

On the other hand, people who feel pushed towards a specific outcome will often react in the opposite direction. Like a strong-willed child, adults too want to own their decisions.

Why does the authority know better? I’m smart, and I will make my own choice! If the authority makes one choice… and… I don’t want to be pushed around…

I choose the opposite!

This is known as Reactance. People react negatively to your persuasion attempts because… you’re pushing too hard.

There are a few way to combat reactance, which begins with our first impression and filters down through our message.

We’ll cover those in future posts.

Today, do you see reactance in  your own life or… in your own behavior?

Let us know in the comments!

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