Creating Acceptance to Change

Getting people to jump in and support a new internal organizational can be difficult, especially if the idea creates change.  Most of the time the person you are asking to change wants to know why they should do what you are asking them to do, and how it makes their jobs easier than the way they are doing it now.

One way to get people to buy in to your idea is to encourage them to use your new, great concept, in a way that will win over their hearts and minds.  And of course if they resist you can always go authoritarian and push what you want in a top down approach as a method of compliance (which in some cases is necessary).

But the honey, not the vinegar, will get you farther in the long run until, even when all other options are extended. The natural reaction can be to force compliance; you may have felt like this before: “I did my best sales pitch and they said no; right in front of everyone!  Well this comes from the VP and I’ll just have their access removed, then they don’t have a choice!”

You know what your doing is a good idea.  Your boss knows it’s a good idea.  Why can’t they understand it too?

When you set out to initiate change, even on a value adding service, create your delivery to generate a flow of acceptance rather than a flow of resistance.  It’s carried in your communication method, tone of voice, body language, and attitude.

Go in with the intention of having them jump in, just like the lazy river at the water park.  You are convincing them that the water is great, and choosing to jump in will carry them to the next goal way easier than walking themselves.

I’m not recommending you show up and present them the slide of how awesome you are.  Metrics and vision statements are good (and should be readily on hand), but this is about the tone.  This is showing them why you will make their life easier and the business better, all they have to do is jump in.

This requires sincerity – people can smell a fake a mile away and will pick your mission to pieces like sharks in the water.  Then your working on a credibility rebuild rather than buy in to a new idea.

Jumping in with an iron fist will likely result in a head butting match. If their tone sets in with resistance and you respond back with a rebuttal, even if you eventually win you’ve still lost.  They will from now on not help you be successful.  Incomplete information will be submitted.  They may hammer down on you to try to make you fail as a demonstration of why they were right in the first place.

But gain buy in, and gain a pilot group.  Gain people to offer ideas for constructive improvements that make you successful.  Full and complete information; and most importantly word of mouth that tells everyone exactly why you are relevant.

Should you encounter a flow of resistance, I say leave them be.  Don’t fight them there and on their terms.  Take their perspective back with you and run with what you have at the time.  Chances are the resistance was a chest pounding display anyway and they will quietly jump in after a few days.  Or they will eventually hear from theirs peers about your awesomeness and will then sheepishly jump in then.  Eventually it will make sense what you are doing, and their boss will catch wind of the idea and mandate his teams to comply anyway.

The smoother the jump in, the smaller the disruption and the faster you can go.  Structure your conversation to gain a flow of acceptance and watch how fast a group of people can move to your common goal.

Bio:  Josh Johnson is a Senior Project Specialist for an enterprise technology procurement office.  He is married, has two boys, and spends most of his time with his family, writing, and trail running.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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