5 Tips for Becoming a Change Agent
Without alienating the people you are trying to influence
If you are Unique and living your Unique, you have probably found yourself in numerous situations where you were in the minority of opinion, perspective, or thought.
You probably have heard these phrases a lot:
"I don't see that."
"I can't understand where you are going with that."
"That is impossible."
"No one has ever done that before."
"I don't think any one will like that."
"Uhm, well, that's different."
"Where did you get that?"
This is the power of seeing things using Your Unique.
For years, I assumed that I was wrong and they were right. I would either drop the issue only later to discover that I was right all along or I would overwhelm everyone with my passionate pleas for understanding. My intuition told me something that others could not see but I could not convincingly explain it.
Learning how to leverage the power of your Unique insights correctly is NOT easy. And being confident in your Unique perspectives and opinions without coming across as arrogant is an art form.
I have not perfected that art form, but I have definitely learned a few lessons along the way.
Check out these strategies for being a change agent without alienating the people that you are trying to influence. Afterwards, I will explain how you can leverage these same strategies in your personal relationships:
Use facts and data rather than your opinion. Someone once said "Opinions are like butt holes. Everyone has one." So using your opinion to try to convince someone of what seems obvious to you is the most ineffective way to initiate a change in viewpoints. Instead, find other sources of facts, figures, and data that help explain your point.
Seek out others who have established influence. You may be right. But then again, you may be wrong. Look at your topic or issue and find the thought leaders and experts who know about it already. See where your thoughts and ideologies match up with theirs and make a case based upon their careful thought and research. In short, borrow someone else's influence if you have little to none in your situation.
Sharpen your communication skills. Don't let others out-dazzle you with their smooth talk. Develop your own Unique brand of smooth talking skills that will help you explain and inform people of your position. Tailor your communication to the audience you are trying to convince. Remember, initiating change is not about how passionate you are. It is about the passion you can make your audience feel.
Spend a day (or longer) in their world. Too often we try to influence change without fully understanding the system we are trying to change. Getting in the system and understanding how it works is the best way to develop your strategy and communication around change. On a personal level, this may mean connecting directly with the people who are opposing you. It is an uncomfortable place to be. But making this connection will give you the insights you need to refine your communication strategy.
Ask questions instead of telling (or preaching). If you are passionate about what you believe, it is easy to drown others out with your emotion. The heart is easily influenced but the head, where decisions are made, takes a little more convincing. If you want people to really believe in the change, you have to sell them from the heart and from the head. This may require you to pull some emotion out of it. When people are overwhelmed with emotion, it can have the opposite effect of engagement. They may shut down and withdraw. Balance your passion with reason to get the highest level of engagement.
In your personal relationships, you can use these same strategies in a different way.
Be rational and reasonable.
Check your facts before trying to change someone else's mind.
Personalize your communication style to the person you are dealing with.
Spend some time in their world before trying to change anything.
Ask open-ended questions instead of preaching or telling.
Pull some of the emotion out of your communication style.
It is the same process with a different focus.
You do NOT have to declare war on the people involved in change. Instead, adopt a smart approach to influencing them. And you may find yourself making change without making waves.
I am cheering for you!