How to Deal with a Hostile Audience

“How to get somebody to change their mind”

This tip might also be called “how to get somebody to change their mind”.  It looks at how you must approach an audience that has already taken a decision that is contradictory to your position.

Let me know how you will use this tip in the comments below.  Where do you have an audience that you need to change their previous decision?  Can you see how to use this communication strategy?


  • Where do you have an audience that you need to change their previous decision? Can you see how to use this communication strategy?

    • I work in solar energy in Italy. The industry has a bad reputation now: after the feed-in tariff policy has changed, many people lost money and their investment in photovoltaic systems proved to profit less than expected.
      People hang up, don’t want to hear about solar anymore – so i try to pass the message that with the dramatically lower prices we have today, and my innovative energy storage device, profitability of a PV system can be increased.

      For me, the difficult bit is to have trust on the new piece of information. The hostile audience usually thinks of herself as an “insider” – if they didn’t know what they were talking about, they probably wouldn’t be so aggressive.
      Data source must be stainless-steel and unquestionable, and I think that most importantly should be offered with love, not to be perceived as an hostile fact itself.

  • Wonderful. It’s just that situations can be very complex. And people don’t always communicate information, but they communicate attitude, they communicate to show you with their choice of words and posture that they hate you in that moment, and if you budge, or if you back off they may perceive it as weakness. Here in Africa you and also places in India and Arabia you could get killed if you don’t understand the hostile audience well. What you say is wonderful and true, but we need to find peculiar ways to make it fit our complex challenges.

  • Totally agree. It is definitely useful to be humble (without loosing the authority that you’ve already earned) and do your best to find common ground. With these two elements clear, it is much easier for a “contrarian” to pay attention to what you have to say.

  • interesting viewpoints Conor, it’s as much about what not to do vs what to do.
    I guess it also depends on what that ‘new info’ actually is and how persuasive the audience finds it. Knowing what they will respond to, what they value, is presumably key.
    e.g. ‘You’re late again’
    “You’re right, but this time I was in a different pub”
    Enjoy the weekend in sunny Barca!