How To Inflict Change

Everyone has a goal of changing something. Sales people want to change their potential customers mind, marketers want to change their purchase decisions. Employees want to change their bosses decisions and leaders want to change organisations working culture. Startups want to change the pre-set industrial notion and non-profits want to change the world.

But changing is hard, extremely hard.

No one wants to change their outlook and decisions easily. You need to push your agendas on the other person or organisation to make them see it from your view. It takes time and real patience to do this.

Newton’s second law of motion itself says that an object at rest, tends to stay at rest until acted by an external force. Though this law is generally used to solve the mysteries of the universe and to study celestial objects like the planets, moon, stars but the law is applicable on the social world as well. Just like these objects organisations, government or the leaders tend to do things just the way they are used to do and as they have always done it before.

We see this inertia everywhere in our day to day life's. Generally voters tend to vote the candidates they have votes in the past rather than giving it a though about which candidate really represents their views. Companies take their last years balance sheet and profit and loss statement as a template to make the new years budget rather than starting fresh. Investors tend to follow the same investing style rather than trying out new methods of rebalancing the portfolio. Organisations are wary of starting new initiatives but loath to kill off new ones even when they are consistently underperforming.

A general tendency of ours is push the new changes on to others. Whenever a potential customer is not sure about the pitch, sales people tend to give out a platter of facts and information (Which in the end tends to confuse the customer). Boss not listening to new suggestions, employees just ten to argue more and give deep explanations. Even if the new suggested change is implemented, at the first sight of trouble the whole idea is put to blame for it.

This idea assumes people are like marbles, you push them in one direction and they will follow it. But, unfortunately this thing backfires. Platter of information causes potential customers to stop returning calls, the boss says “I will think about it”- which politely means that it’s never going to happen.

We are so focused on the desired outcome that we are consumed with ‘how to push people in that direction’. Along the way, we forget the mind of the person we are trying to change and what are the barriers that are preventing it.

Let's think about this in a chemical analogy. For reactions to occur, molecules must break their pre-existing bonds between their atoms to form new ones. It requires a lot of energy to do this but for speeding up this process, scientists use a very special substance called as catalyst. A good Catalyst allows you to complete this transformation of the molecule while using the least energy possible.

Let’s face it, sometimes the good old pushing tactic works. Though it’s important to notice that it consumes a lot of energy for the same outcome. Energy that can be saved if you use a “catalyst” !

When communicating and trying to convey your idea, you need to first isolate all the issues and find a suitable solution for all of them. Once all the barriers to the change’s idea are removed it is very easy to promote the core principle which is really the change desired.

Simple question to ask ourselves before using the old persuasion method is: Why hasn’t the person changed ? Whats blocking the change ? Are all the barriers removed ?

This is the one simple mantra of inflicting change- not by being persuasive or pushing harder, but by being a catalyst !

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