Dealing with opposition

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Dealing with opposition and persuading the skeptics[edit]

Change is hard. Even positive change is hard and triggers opposition. How do you deal with it?

First try and understand _why_ a person or a group is taking the position they are. A rational discussion on the benefits may not always work.

Sometimes there is underlying fear, whether of change or of losing something. Loss aversion is much stronger motivation than gaining something. There is also fear of people who are 'other' than yourself and your own kind, and fear of the added complexity of needing to take more care (for example when entering or exiting your driveway across a cycleway). The best approach may be to primarily _listen_, and ask gentle questions, rather than tell. This scientific article about how to talk with science deniers and skeptics is useful.

Also useful reading is New Zealand research on Understanding Bikelash.

For further background reading about some of the psychology and 'othering' of 'cyclists' see David Horton's Fear of Cycling and Jennifer Bonham's Disruptive Traveller.

Remember it's never possible to convince everyone. The key, though, to support decision makers to ensure projects succeed, is to demonstrate to them the high level of support that _is_ inevitably there in the community. The decision makers need enough information to show them that the noisy few who oppose the project are far outweighed. This could be by doorknocking or surveying the community, or asking them to commission a community survey, or just making sure that the people who do support it are more vocal.