‘It is what it is’ and other meaningless palliatives
Years ago I saw the film, Baraka. It’s a visual treat, showing some truly beautiful aspects of nature and culture alongside the ability of ‘civilisation’ to destroy what is precious.
I remember one scene in the film showing a native tribe in Brazil, rowing along the Amazon. Next shot, native tribes boxed in tatty blocks of dark flats, squeezed against each other, perching precariously on a deforested mound.
Yet those families, who had been running free not so long ago, looked quite content in their cramped homes. It’s a testament to the enduring human spirit or rather, how we can get quite used to a crappy situation.
What we are often seeing is not the victories of the human spirit but the amnesia of the human mind.
We forget how great we can be, how rewarding our jobs can be, or, our lives, affecting the possibility of businesses and individuals to more than just ‘manage’.
1. Hit ’em in the gut
Persuading people to change means showing reminding them of two factors:
1) Exactly how crappy things are now;
2) Exactly how great it could be for them.
When presenting and persuading, you need a balance of the analytical – facts, data, evidence – and the emotion.
The reason for this is that although the numbers will convince, we’re ultimately stirred into action by emotion, a concept that Chip and Dan Heath wrote about in their book, ‘Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard’. They picked on a Deloittes survey that analysed the decision making process of 400 people in 130 companies across four continents and proved that when you hit people in the gut, those feelings will be more likely to generate action.
2. Make it tangible:
Something that can be seen is more persuasive than concepts. In trying to prove how having numerous suppliers for any one item was reducing a company’s ability to attain competitive prices, a graph plotting the expenses could be projected on the wall.
Alternatively, throwing the identical and variously-priced objects on the board table, the point of wasting money through decentralised purchasing decisions is made more succinctly. It’s visual and real, allowing people to see and feel, in both senses of the word.
To read a case study of Joe Stegner did this at Deere, go here.
3. Focus on the individual:
When charities plead for money, they don’t show you a matrix of data but a face of a child (usually). In their literature, they will then focus on the story of this one individual to explain the issues. Take us for a moment into the life of another and we can walk in their shoes without having to take ours off.
4. Build an imaginary contrasted future
Paint a vivid picture of the situation now:
a) What are you seeing now that isn’t working?
b) How will this problem make everything worse?
c) What else will go wrong if we carry on like this?
Paint the enlightened future:
a) What would we see that will tell us the situation has improved?
b) What else would get better as a result of this?
c) What are the first steps to make this change easy, whereby we’d get our first small wins?
How to use these techniques:
You could apply them:
- in a pitch or presentation
- to change behaviour in feedback situations
- in persuading teams of the benefits of forthcoming change
- for marketing or advertising products
So when will you use one of these methods and how will you apply it?
Let me know here!