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Have you ever given everything it took trying to convince someone you honestly feel is taking a destructive or an unproductive path in life? What were the approaches you used exactly? How successful were you?

Convincing someone can be extremely challenging sometimes. This can be true especially when those you try to convince involve a close one such as a family member, friend, teenager,colleague, neighbour or even a boss. In fact you may even find yourself having to convince a group of people at once, persuading them to cease taking a path you feel may tend out hurting them later. This is a very common problem which unfortunately risks many relationships as well as creating an unhealthy environment we wished never happened.

As a former student of an Occupational Safety and Health training program, one thing I learned about solving a problem is by finding the root causes of the problem, to prevent it from recurring sometime in the future. Without knowing the real root cause of a problem, it becomes extremely difficult to control or we may end up using a very wrong approach. Imagine you own a factory and the rate of work related accidents or fatalities amongst your employees keep rising, say 2 workers in January, 4 in February and 5 in March. As the owner of the factory trying to prevent such incidence, you may consider firing their supervisors or probably invest more in personal protective clothing. Consider you invest more in acquiring personal protective clothing for the workers and realise very little or no change occurred in the next 2 or 3 months. It is possible no matter how much you invest in protecting these workers with equipment, the problem may likely recur in the future. By using a root cause analysis approach in solving this problem, you may end up uncovering the real underlying cause of the problem which could possibly be the lack of adequate training of your employees.

No one is born to act in a particular manner. Every problem is accompanied by a cause, specifically a root cause. From the example above, one can relate with circumstances in life such as convincing a loved or close one. Wether it’s convincing a son from smoking or drinking, a brother from leaving a gang, a husband from being violent or abusive, or whatever the case, always have an origin or root cause. Unfortunately, unlike the context of the company, these causes may have long-term and devastating impacts to individuals in real life situation.

Avoid using a particular cause as the only source in trying to manage a  problem as it may end up worsening the situation. Always ensure all causes are explored as this may aid you in the type of approach to use. Imagine you trying to convince a teenage kid to quit a habit of smoking. Rather than always scolding at the kid for smoking or constantly searching the kid’s room for packets of cigarettes to seize, you may want to try creating a very favourable environment for some real communication with the kid. By doing so, you may end up uncovering different possible causes in the process of communication which may definitely make you rethink your convincing strategy or probably seek for  adequate assistance.

One big challenge people do face in their effort to convince someone to change is by continuously using an approach which produces little or no result. With the absence of flexibility in this process, we end up overworking ourselves. Therefore ,it is imperative trying to explore all possible root causes of a situation and try addressing the real cause with a corresponding and adequate approach. In this way it may feel less costly and less exhausting.