When you are delivering news and/or information to an audience that may not like what you are saying, you must meet people where they are or you will lose that audience and your ability to influence them.
Let’s say you are introducing a new process to a team. You have reviewed all the options and made a sound decision. Your next task is to think about how this decision will be received. What if the people who will execute on that decision feel they are already overburdened? People don’t like change and employees who already feel frenzied will push back.
Your first key message must recognize what they are currently doing well. Then, acknowledge that change can be difficult and meet them where they are in that anxiety/reluctance/anger (everyone will have a different level of emotion).
Bad: We’ve decided to make changes in the way we are processing quarterly reports in order to streamline the process and make it easier for clients to access. A new software package has been purchased and you’ll have a training schedule soon.
Good: After listening to comments from you and our clients, we are making changes to how quarterly reports are processed. You have done a great job with them and (not but) now it’s time to streamline the process to make it easier on everyone. In order to do that, we will need new software. We know you have a lot on your desks and this will mean extra effort to learn the software. We have made arrangements to delay deadlines (or share workloads, etc) in order to make it easier for all of you to learn the new system. Our goal is to ultimately save you time and also make it easier for clients to access their information.
See the difference? Meet them where they are — “I don’t have time for this”; “are they crazy?”; “when am I supposed to learn all this and get my regular work done?”; “I hate learning new stuff on the computer-I’m so awful at it”. Then acknowledge where they are and make the outcome something that supports employees as well as clients and your bottom line.
Letting them know you’ve thought about them makes all the difference to ‘buy-in’. That’s how you Communicate with Influence.