Influencing People to Change

9 July 2021

That is a question I’m often asked and here are some questions to think about. When was the last time you resisted change even though you know it is good for you? Do you remember a time when you were about to attempt something new but you held yourself back, not because of fear or uncertainty? Do you remember getting good advise but did not act on it?

What is the common denominator? Chances are, the push for change came from someone else and rather than from within. We resisted it, not because we did not believe in it but because it wasn’t our decision. This is Newton’s third law in action, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” When we are pushed forward, we push back (resist). Our brain wants autonomy and choice. Give people freedom to choose and you can influence them to change more effectively. Here are five tips to help you in your conversations to initiate change.

Express Empathy – when people demonstrate resistance by sharing their problems and difficulties why they are unable to do it, the first step is to express understanding and empathy. When we do that, they see us an allies and not pushy adversaries. You may say, “I can appreciate how difficult that can be and I’d like to acknowledge you for (identified strength).

Identify their Aspirations – Next step is to help them identify what they want. You may ask questions such as, “What would you like to see different?”, “What do you  want to achieve for yourself in the near future?”, “Why is that important for you?” “What does it mean to you when you achieved it?”

Point out Disconnects – Share your observations on behaviours that you are noticing and contrast it with what they are saying. These are blind spots that the person might not notice. You may say, “I’m happy to hear that you like your job and you want to build a career here. I’m also noticing that timeliness at work is a challenge for you. How do you see that as important to your career aspirations?” or “I’m glad to hear that you are trying your best to meet the budget and this will definitely contribute to your aspirations. I’m also noticing that the results are not coming forth despite your time and effort invested. What needs to happen in order to achieve what you want?”

Explore Impact – Impact and consequences influences behaviours. We act differently when we are aware of the positives and negatives that might come in the way of our actions. You may ask, “What impact do you see if you continue to deliver this level of work quality or result?”, “What are some possible consequences that you may experience when this continues?” or “How will all these affect you?” or “What opportunities do you see coming in our way when you do things differently?”

Encourage Decisions – Allow people to make their own decisions instead of concluding and deciding for them. We take away their power of commitment when we speak on their behalf. You may ask, “Considering what we have discussed, what you do plan to do?”, or “What actions do you plan to a take arising from here?”

Remember, people are like seeds. They grow in their own time. Some seeds germinate overnight and some take longer. As a leader, we need to give them nourishment and sunshine to help in their growth. Having said all that, know that some seeds don’t grow at all.

What are your thoughts?

Wai K Leong, MCC

wkleong@jmcconsult.com

E X P E R I E N C E • ICF Global Board Director – 2015 – 2018 • ICF Global Vice President - 2017 • ICF Malaysia Chapter President – 2007 - 2012 • Senior Leadership experience- 25 years • General Manager of PLC- 10 years • Group…read more

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