Expert explains how to have tricky conversations with people who are hesistant about getting the COVID-19 vaccine


(WTNH) – As the push continues to get more people vaccinated, families and friends often find themselves having tricky conversations with those who are hesitant about getting the vaccine.

You see those debates everywhere on social media. People arguing back and forth about the Covid vaccine. ‘You’re selfish.’ ‘You’re stupid.’ ‘You’re lying.’ ‘You’re crazy.’ But if you really want to get a hesitant person to get the vaccine, the experts say there is only one thing to do: Listen to them.

“I’ve seen people turn this into a debate, and I’ve heard them try to argue a position,” said Dr. James O’Dea, a psychologist with Hartford HealthCare. “Let me make something really, really clear: You can’t change someone else’s mind.”

Dr. O’Dea says you need to talk to people. Too many just talk at them.

“And simply wait until the next person stops talking and then they re-iterate their position,” O’Dea explained. “It’s actually rare to see people say, ‘Can you tell me more about that? I’d like to better understand that view.'”

Some distrust among minorities stems from the shameful Tuskegee experiment.

“Woman said to me, ‘I don’t trust your science. I just don’t trust the healthcare system,” O’Dea said. “There’s a really important word there. What she said is, ‘I don’t trust YOUR science.'”

Other feel vaccine mandates are “bullying” them, which triggers childhood traumas. You won’t know their concerns unless you listen.

“So when people are genuinely listened to, and really feel heard, they actually do begin to feel a bit more open to maybe there’s other alternative perspectives,” O’Dea explained.

So again, you can’t change someone else’s mind. Only they can. By listening to what’s on their mind, however, you may be able to open up their mind a little and give them the chance to change it.

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