Getting People Interested in Change  

Every time I walk into a workshop with a new group, I have a job to get out of the way: establish credibility and generate interest.

Is this partly because I’m a young chick with far too much energy instead of a boring old dude? Yes.

But more than that – it’s because I’m usually there to talk about strategy and change, and both of those things get a bad rap. They’re boring, the workshops are usually a talk-fest and people are fatigued – seen one, seen them all.

And honestly, they’re not generally wrong.

With my teenager, getting her to put down her phone and make eye contact is not always easy. Her attention is predicated on self-interest, and I’ve got a short amount of time to prove I’ve got something to say she might care about.

Teams in the workplace are no different – they’ve got a million other things to care about right now, and whatever you’ve got to say probably involves work, so it better be interesting.

“We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in” – David Beebe

One of the most effective ways to break through the barrier is simple but overlooked: speak the same language! Speaking in language people can connect with is proven to be one of the most effective ways to establish trust and build a positive reputation. The idea is all about ‘processing fluency’ – familiarity makes it easy to trust what you’re saying.

Did you know that 40% of the cost of managing business transactions is spent on problems due to poor or misunderstood communication?

It’s because we talk in buzzwords and suck all the authenticity out of it.

If you can speak in Plain English and you’re really onto a winner – research has found that the more concrete language you’re able to use (i.e. less jargon and fewer buzzwords) the more trustworthy and truthful your statements appear. Governments across the world know this, including NZ, who support the Plain Language awards. Companies have figured it out too – British Telecom claim to have cut customer queries by 25% by switching to plain English!

I hear a lot of leaders complain about cynical and disengaged teams, but I suspect cynicism might not be the problem – a history of boring, crappy delivery might play a role. In the words of Mick Mooney – “assume positive intent” – put yourself in their shoes, and make it easy to be heard.

-        A

How to generate interest and establish credibility:

·       Connect quickly to things others care about for the familiarity effect

·       Use plain, concrete language to foster trust

·       Be real – teenagers and teams both smell inauthenticity a mile away