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Overcoming Opposition

I’m regularly flummoxed when I hear people question climate change, or when folks actually believe that people of color are ‘different’ and worthy of being insulted, underpaid, ignored. What’s up with Congress and why can’t that many smart people find grounds for compromise? And why do women still only earn a fraction of what men earn? Are we not smart enough? Worthy?

With our unique, subjective stances, we attempt to change the opinions of others to concur with us: Liberals attempt to change Conservatives; races try to engender diversity; sellers attempt to convince buyers their status quo is flawed; techies/engineers/scientists/doctors believe they hold the Smart Card of Right/Knowledge/Rationale and work at pushing their opinions accordingly. Yet rarely do we make a dent. Others are ‘stubborn’ ‘stupid’ ‘irrational’ ‘ill-informed’ while we, of course, hold the high ground.

Core Beliefs Maintain Our Lives

The problem that causes all this ‘stubbornness’ and difficulty achieving alignment is the difference in core beliefs. Developed over our lifetimes via our experience and life path and forming the core of our subjective biases, they embody our Identity. And as the foundation of our daily decisions and status quo, it all feels just fine. It’s who we are, and we live – and restrict – our lives in service to these beliefs: we choose jobs, newspapers, neighborhoods and life partners accordingly. While researching my new book What? on the gap between what’s said and what’s heard, I learned we even interpret what others say to maintain our subjectivity.

Every day we (our companies, families, etc.) wake up congruent; we work hard to maintain our status quo, aided by our habits and memory. Every day, in every way, we regenerate our biases; in service to maintaining systems congruence, we filter in/out anything that causes us to question status quo. Anything that threatens this faces resistance and conflict as part of self-preservation. Why would anyone disrupt their stable internal systems just because something from outside that attacks our core beliefs tells us to? When pundits say our behaviors are ‘irrational’ they ignore the fact that all of our beliefs are rational to our systems. Everyone seeks to maintain their status quo at all costs. Literally.

And when we hear others spout ideas that run counter to our beliefs and potentially challenge our views, opinions, habits and norms, we feel challenged and set about finding ways to convince others to believe as we do. But our attempts to change minds must fail

  • Because our ‘relevant’ information, carefully culled from studies, pundits, target intellectuals or politicians to prove we’re Right, is biased according to our own subjective beliefs and likely not the same studies, pundits, target intellectuals, or politicians that our Communication Partner would believe.
  • Because we’re arrogant. We’re telling others I’m right/you’re wrong.
  • Because information doesn’t teach anyone how to change, and it can’t even be heard accurately, unless they are already prepared to do so.
  • Because we cause resistance.

Agreement Requires Belief Modification

As outsiders we will never fully understand how another’s idiosyncratic beliefs create their opinions. Nor do we need to. We just need to find agreement somewhere; we must eschew the need to be Right. We must enter each discussion as a blank slate, without a map or biases, with the only stated goal being to find common ground.

Imagine if you believed (there’s that word again) that you had no answers, no ‘Right Factor’, only the ability to facilitate an examination of a higher order of beliefs that you can both agree on.

Instead of trying to match your own beliefs, find a belief you can match. Maybe you can agree that maintaining climate health is valuable, and merely disagree on causation or cures and move on from there. Here are some steps:

  • Enter conversations without bias, need to be right, or expectation.
  • Enter with a goal to find a higher order of agreement rather than a specific outcome.
  • Chunk up to find a category that’s agreeable to both and fits everyone’s beliefs.
  • Begin examining the category to find other agreeable points.
  • Use the agreeable points to move toward collaboration where possible.

I’m a Buddhist. I’ve learned that there is no such thing as being Right. But I’ve also learned that I don’t need to disrespect my own beliefs or undermine my own tolerance level to be compassionate and recognize that everyone has a right to believe as they do. Of course sometimes I’m willing to lose a friend or client if another’s beliefs are so far outside my identity that I feel harmed. But I understand that my stance, too, is most likely biased and defensive. I, too, might have to alter my beliefs to be more amenable to collaboration.

Here is the question I ask myself at times I feel the need to change someone’s opinion: Would I rather be Right, or in Relationship?


About the Author

Sharon Drew Morgen is founder of Morgen Facilitations, Inc. (www.newsalesparadigm.com). She is the visionary behind Buying Facilitation®, the decision facilitation model that enables people to change with integrity. A pioneer who has spoken about, written about, and taught the skills to help buyers buy, she is the author of the acclaimed New York Times Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and Dirty Little Secrets: Why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it.

To contact Sharon Drew at sh[email protected] or go to www.didihearyou.com to choose your favorite digital site to download your free book.

The Problem With Information

Information, when used to influence or sell, advise or share, has cost us untold loss in business and relationships. It actually causes resistance.

Information Causes Resistance

For some reason, we maintain a long-standing belief that if we offer the right people the right information at the right time, presented in the right way, those it’s intended to influence will be duly impressed and adopt it. But that’s erroneous. Just think how often we:

  • patiently explain to our kids why something is bad for them,
  • present a well-considered idea to our boss,
  • share an important idea with a friend,
  • offer great data as rationale to lead change initiatives,
  • offer brilliant pitches to prospects to explain our solution

and how often our brilliant delivery and logical (and probably accurate) argument is not only ignored but rebuffed. Certainly the ineffective behaviors continue regardless of the logic of the information we offer. Are they just stupid? Irrational? We’re ‘right’ of course: we’ve got the rational argument and data points; what we have to share is what Others need to hear.

But is this true?

It’s not. And we’re wrong. We’re actually creating resistance, losing business, destroying relationships, and impeding change.

Here’s why. When we present rational data, or make arguments based on logic or wisdom or knowledge, and hope it will sway an opinion or get a new decision made, we’re putting the cart before the horse. While the data itself may be important, we are merely using our own biases as the motivation, not to mention our timing may be inappropriate. You see, until there’s internal buy-in for change people have no place to put the information.

We believe that part of our jobs as leaders, sales professionals, coaches, managers, or even parents is to be the arbiters of change, with information the main ingredient. But information in and of itself does not teach someone how to change: information promotesknowledge that may not be understood or pursued by that person at that time. Change requires a systems overhaul.

Let me explain. Everyone – people and teams, companies and families – possesses unique internal beliefs, values, histories, biases (systems) that are idiosyncratic and determine our behaviors. Indeed, these internal systems are so clearly defined and defended that we don’t even know how to listen when information is offered that’s outside our conventional thinking. Regardless of how important our information is, it will be resisted until/unless there is internal buy-in for it.

Offer Information Only When System Ready for Change

It is only when parts of the system seek a new level of excellence and can figure out how to change without disruption will any sort of change be considered, regardless of our initiatives as outsiders to influence the change. If the system had recognized the need to change and knew how to fix it congruently they would have fixed the problem already.

At the point the need for change is considered, even by a small part of the system, the system must get buy-in from everything and everyone that will touch the new solution and knows how to change its underlying rules in a way that insures minimal disruption. In other words, no buy-in/no agreed-upon safe route forward = no change considered = no information accepted: the information doesn’t fit anywhere, can’t be heard, can’t be understood. We end up pushing valid data into a closed system that doesn’t recognize the need for it.

Telling kids why they should clean their rooms, telling prospects why your solution is better, telling managers to use new software doesn’t create the hoped-for change, regardless of how cogent the information except where the kids, buyers, managers were already set up to/seeking change and know how to move forward congruently (i.e. the low hanging fruit).

Here are a couple of simple examples.

  1. As you run out the door to get your daughter to school your spouse says, “I think we should move.” Huh! “We’ll speak more tonight,” you reply. On your way home you notice a great house for sale and you buy it. Do you think the information about the house is relevant to your family at that point (even if it’s the perfect house)?
  2. You and your team are getting ready to launch a new product you’ve been developing for two years. Your boss tells you the company has been bought out and it may affect the launch, certainly effects next year’s budget, your work location, and the team. Then a sales person calls selling team building software. Do you think the information about the software is relevant at this point (even if it’s a perfect solution)?
  3. You’re a consultant hired to lead a team through a reorganization. The team is stable, has been working successfully together for three years and enjoys great productivity and camaraderie. Do you think the information about the rationale of reorganization will be adopted effortlessly and effectively?

It’s not about the need or efficacy: change cannot happen until the system knows who or what:

  • will be affected by the new solution;
  • an acceptable solution should be that considers all;
  • the criteria that must be met;
  • the parameters for change to ensure minimal disruption;
  • the level of buy-in or change necessary;
  • the new rules and norms that must be adopted.

As I say in Dirty Little Secrets: the system is sacrosanct (Read this book to understand each stage of decision making.). We learned about homeostasis in 6th grade: anything that is seen to be pushing the system out of balance will create resistance. Giving information too early merely causes resistance as the system fights for balance. And so, our brilliant, necessary, cogent information gets ignored, resisted, objected to, or misunderstood and we must handle the ubiquitous objections and resistance that we have created (and sadly miss real opportunities to facilitate change). Hence long sales cycles/lost sales and implementation problems, ignored advice, and lost opportunities. So: manage change first to set up the buy-in; then offer information.

Conventional sales, marketing, training, coaching, parenting, and leadership models use sharing and gathering information at their core. I’ve developed a model called Buying Facilitation® which is a generic decision facilitation model that enables a system to manage change and manage all of the behind-the-scenes elements needed to garner buy-in first; information is offered once there is agreement for adoption – and by the time you offer it, there is already eagerness for change. If you’re a coach, negotiator, seller, purchasing agent, leader, doctor, or implementer add it into your current skills. Then when it’s to offer information, your clients will be ready for it and eager to accept it.


About the Author

Sharon Drew Morgen is founder of Morgen Facilitations, Inc. (www.newsalesparadigm.com). She is the visionary behind Buying Facilitation®, the decision facilitation model that enables people to change with integrity. A pioneer who has spoken about, written about, and taught the skills to help buyers buy, she is the author of the acclaimed New York Times Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and Dirty Little Secrets: Why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it.

To contact Sharon Drew at [email protected] or go to www.didihearyou.com to choose your favorite digital site to download your free book.

Unlocking the Mystery Of Successfully Managing Organizational Change

A few years ago when shipping giant United Parcel Service (UPS) adopted the clever marketing slogan “Moving At The Speed Of Business,” it resonated well with the public because keeping up with the pace of change can be incredibly tough.

Customers change, supply lines change, companies grow, they contract and that can all happen within the first quarter!

This kind of “shotgun” change can cause confusion and stress and wreak havoc on staffing levels as staff scramble to make sure all the work is divided and assigned. Also, employees tend to be somewhat migratory, so even in good times they pursue other opportunities, which can lead to the same chaos.

So how do you manage change at the fundamental organizational level? How do you keep the machine working even when sometimes key components are missing?

Here are three tips to help successfully manage organizational change:


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About the Author

Gabriel BristolGabriel Bristol is widely recognized as one of today’s most talented call center presidents because of his track record of developing turnkey solutions, effective customer care and sales programs for small and medium-sized businesses across various industries. He combines more than 20 years of successful executive management experience with impactful leadership and igniting stagnant businesses and transforming declining operations. Gabriel’s approach is personal, insightful, forward thinking and provides strategies that result in customer service excellence.

Change Leadership: Overcoming Change Fatigue and Organizational Burnout

For any business, large or small, corporate change is critical for survival. Unfortunately, though, many of us are juggling multiple change initiatives simultaneously. Not only that, but 70% of changes fail – contributing to the exhaustion both individuals and organizations are experiencing. So, how can we avoid change fatigue and organizational burnout while still moving our companies forward?

Here are three success principles that will help you navigate this frenzy of activity and build the ongoing capabilities required for continuous evolution:


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About the Authors

Lisa HillenbrandEllen R. AusterEllen R. Auster and Lisa Hillenbrand are the authors of authors of Stragility: Excelling at Strategic Changes (Rotman-UTP Publishing). Auster is Professor of Strategic Management and the Founding Director of the Schulich Centre for Teaching Excellence at the Schulich School of Business, York University. Hillenbrand is the founder of Lisa Hillenbrand & Associates, and previously served as Global Marketing Director at Procter & Gamble.

Decision Makers vs. Influencers

I’ve heard there are 5.7 decision makers for each sale, and ‘unknown’ influencers. Yet there is no difference between ‘decision makers’ and ‘influencers’.

  • If you want to move and your daughter is in her last year of high school and prefers to stay behind to finish the year, is she a decision maker or an influencer?
  • If your tech group isn’t available to implement an important new program until they finish their current work, would the tech director be an influencer or a decision maker?
  • If your company is going through a merger and the teams haven’t been merged yet, would the director of the groups that need training be an influencer or a decision maker?
  • If you think some of your folks need coaching, would these folks be influencers or decision makers?

See what I mean? ‘Decision Maker’ and ‘Influencer’ are arbitrary delineations. Until everyone who will touch the final solution buys-in, and any ensuing change is managed, no buying decision will happen, regardless of how well your solution matches their need. Think about that when you ask for ‘The Decision Maker’ or believe that the one person who showed up to your appointment is ‘The Decision Maker.’ There is never just one unless it’s a small personal item. And by focusing on this person as ‘The Decision Maker’ you’re actually delaying your sale.

Years ago, when technology was new, a coaching client selling golf carts with new type of visual GPS systems once bet me $20 that his prospect, the owner of a golf course, was the sole decision maker. They’d been having lovely, personal, conversations once a month for a year and my client believed he would eventually close due to the strength of their phone ‘relationship’. He knew they had a need that his golf carts could address. I disagreed: it was obvious to me there was another decision maker in the background that hadn’t been brought in to the conversation. With permission, I placed a call to the owner. Here’s how the conversation went.

SDM: I’m training with William. Seems you two sort of love each other but I’m confused. William tells me you love his carts and find them quite revolutionary. And you’ve been speaking for a year. What’s stopping you from buying them?

O: I do love your carts. But my grounds-keeper would kill me if I bought any. He’s afraid that if the GPS system breaks down we’d run out of carts for the golfers. So it’s not my call.

My client put his $20 into my lap. He’d ignored the fact that that until everyone whose job would be effected as a result of bringing in a new solution became part of the buying decision, no purchase could be made. (BTW, following the above exchange, I used the Buying Facilitation® process and facilitated bringing the grounds keeper into the conversation. Two weeks later the sale was made. But as long as the grounds keeper was not being brought into the conversation, he wouldn’t have. Buyers only buy when they can solve a business problem without causing internal havoc, not because your solution is terrific.)

It’s possible to facilitate the buying decision process by helping buyers recognize all of the people who must buy-in to a purchase. It’s not always obvious to them. And this must happen before buyers can buy. Having a need is merely one aspect of their problem set. And as an outsider, you’ll never know who all of the decision makers are or what sort of internal decisions must be made that fall outside your purview.

Remember that a buying decision is a change management problem; the sales model does not offer the skills to facilitate the sort of non-solution-based systemic change buyers go through (behind-the-scenes politics, relationships, timing, etc.) Pre Sales, and their process delays/stops your sale.


About the Author

Sharon Drew Morgen is a visionary, original thinker, and thought leader in change management and decision facilitation. She works as a coach, trainer, speaker, and consultant, and has authored 9 books including the NYTimes Business BestsellerSelling with Integrity. Morgen developed the Buying Facilitation® method (www.sharondrewmorgen.com) in 1985 to facilitate change decisions, notably to help buyers buy and help leaders and coaches affect permanent change. Her newest book What? www.didihearyou.com explains how to close the gap between what’s said and what’s heard. She can be reached at [email protected]