It can be hard to know what approach to take with friends and family who steadfastly refuse to get vaccinated against Covid-19. So far I haven't said or done anything, for fear of not doing a good job and them further entrenching their anti-vax position.
Last week it was reported by NZ Herald journalist Damien Venuto that beating someone over the head with facts is an ineffective way of getting people to do something.
He said behaviour change scientists had discovered that convincing someone to do something would only work if you could find a level of commonality.
This resonated with me, I have long abandoned trying to convince my husband we should take some sort of action (about anything) based on all the research I have done, he always just does what he wants to do anyway.
He's a reasonable person, as are the many people I know who have said they and their family will not be getting vaccinated.
Australian psychologist Steven Taylor recently explained in an article for The Guardian: "The harder you try to push and persuade these psychologically reactive people, the more they are likely to push back because they perceive their freedoms are being threatened."
Using facts and figures to prove to someone that they're an "anti-vax nut" will ultimately drive them deeper into the hesitancy that you're trying to pull them out of.
My interpretation of this information is that I should keep my fact-based fears to myself.
So I won't be telling my unvaccinated friends that modelling by Te Pūnaha Matatini at the University of Auckland shows if 80 per cent of the population over the age of 5 is vaccinated, 7000 people a year could still die from the virus and 60,000 could end up in hospital.
Behaviour change experts also say that getting through to people requires you to pitch the information in a way that resonates with their world view. You have to change the conversation and use language that is familiar to the group you are trying to reach.
Two weeks ago Herald columnist and radio broadcaster Shane Te Pou wrote that he convinced an anti-vax relative to get the jab simply by finding some common ground.
Instead of outlining all the reasons why the vaccine was definitely not poison, Shane offered to shout his relative a "box of Woodys" in exchange for getting vaccinated.
The relative negotiated a bit but ultimately agreed to the terms of the cheeky agreement.
Shane says the strategy might seem a little unconventional, but it means another person in his community is vaccinated.
Shane says he has made it his goal to encourage at least one person each day to get vaccinated.
To do this, he has broken down his strategy into three groups.
The first involves people who've simply put the vaccine off because of time constraints.
Rather than accuse them of being lazy or uninterested, Shane says he tries to understand where they're coming from and offers to help. He says that these people generally just need a small nudge and a bit of encouragement.
Shane's second group are those worried about possible side effects. He says these people are just nervous.
Shane counters this narrative by sharing his personal vaccine story and reminding them that the alternative of suffering from long Covid might be far worse. He also isn't scared to take the conversation in a slightly heavier direction.
"I tell them: I don't want to have to go to your tangihanga," he says.
The third group is those who have gone deeper down the conspiracy path – and these are the trickiest ones to convince.
In talking to these people, Shane tends to avoid any references to facts, figures or science. Instead, he reminds them of the cost of lockdowns to the community and how this can limit families' ability to make money.
He also reminds them of the things they will miss out on, like seeing family members living abroad or overseas trips.
The point Shane makes is that talking down to people and trying to show them how much smarter we are will not make a difference to their views. We need to instead shift the conversations to the things we all care about.
Sometimes, this is as simple as reminding a family of the feeling of an airport hug with a loved one. Other times, it might involve a cheeky box of chilled beverages.